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What is OCT?

Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a non-invasive imaging test, similar to an ultrasound, that uses light waves to take cross-section pictures of your retina, the light-sensitive tissue lining the back of the eye.


With OCT each of the retina’s distinctive layers can be seen allowing our optometrists to map and measure their thickness.  These measurements help with early diagnosis and provide treatment guidance for glaucoma and retinal diseases such as age-related macular degeneration and diabetic eye disease.

OCT scanning is not covered by NHS Scotland but if your NHS eye exam is due, patients can book our Enhanced NHS Eye Exam, which includes OCT, for a fee of £25.

Standard Retinal Image

Layers within the Retina

Contour of a Retinal Layer

Seeing Beneath the Surface ...

Using a state-of-the-art 3D OCT camera, your optometrist will take both a digital photograph and a three dimensional cross-sectional scan of the back of your eye in one sitting.  This allows both instant and early diagnosis of a number of common ocular conditions.  The scan is non-invasive, painless, simple and quick.  What's more, the computer software can automatically detect even the most subtle changes to the retina with every eye examination you have.

What can the scan check for?

Common conditions identified through regular OCT screening include:

Age-related Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of sight loss in the UK.  It causes gradual deterioration of the macula (the central portion of your retina which enable detailed vision).  there are 2 types of AMD; dry and wet.  Wet AMD causes rapid reduction is vision and must be treated in hospital very rapidly.  OCT can help to identify the earliest signs of AMD, determine whether it is the dry or wet form and help monitor its progress over time.



Over 4 million people are now diagnosed with diabetes in the UK, with experts claiming that over half a million people are currently suffering from undiagnosed type 2 diabetes.  Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of sight loss in people of working age within the UK.  OCT examination helps enable early detection of diabetic retinopathy, allowing early referral and management which can greatly improve the success rate of treatment.


Glaucoma is a condition which cause damage to the optic nerve - the part of the eye which connects to the brain - and causes gradual loss in peripheral vision.  Recent statistics suggest that some form of glaucoma affects 2 in every 100 people over the age of 40, rising to almost 1 in 10 in people over 75 years.  Because the early stages of chronic glaucoma do not cause symptoms, regular eye examinations are essential to pick up glaucoma at its earliest stage so that ongoing damage can be prevented.  OCT scanning can measure numerous features at the back of the eye and facilitate early diagnosis of glaucoma.  Furthermore, it can enable close monitoring of your eye health year-on-year, allowing identification of glaucomatous changes over time.

Vitreous Detachments

Vitreomacular traction can be easily diagnosed through OCT providing invaluable information about the current relationship between the vitreous and the retinal surface of the eye.  As people get older the vitreous jelly that takes up the space in our eyeball can change.  It becomes less firm and can move away from the back of the eye towards the centre, in some cases parts do not detach and cause 'pulling' of the retinal surface.  The danger of a vitreous detachment is that there is no pain and your eyesight may seem unchanged but the back of your eye may be being damaged.

Macular Holes

A macular hole is a small hole in the macula - the part of the retina which is responsible for our sharp, detailed central vision.  This is the vision we use when looking directly at things, when reading, sewing or using a computer for example. Macular holes usually form during a complicated vitreous detachment, when the vitreous pulls away from the back of the eye, causing a hole to form.  Management of this condition needs to be carried out by an ophthalmologist in hospital.


How do I arrange to have an OCT Scan?

When booking your routine eye examination in person or by phone simply let one of our team know you'd like to include OCT in your examination.  When booking online simply select 'Enhanced Eye Examination' as your appointment type. 


Patients registered with MySight, our online patient portal, will also be able to view their OCT scans online.

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