What is Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT)?

The OCT is an advanced system that uses long-wavelength lightwaves to create a 3D scan of your eye, including the surface of the retina (back surface of the eye) and into the retina, showing details like the blood vessels and the optic nerve. No drops are required and the machine does not touch your eye, it just makes a bright flash.

The images it produces allow your optometrist to see detail beyond that which is possible in a normal eye examination, it also allows us to keep a permanent 3D record of your eye for comparison at future appointments.

A number of potentially serious eye conditions can be detected by the OCT scan, in many cases we are able to identify the early onset of conditions before they began to show evident symptoms and before they would have been visible in a routine eye examination

OCT Scan showing signs of AMD also known as Drusen
OCT Technology spotting nerve damage, a key sign of Glaucoma
OCT Scan displaying early signs of Diabetic Retinopathy

Macular Degeneration (AMD)

The most common cause of sight loss in individuals over 50 in Britain, AMD exists in ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ form. Wet AMD is the most dangerous and at worst can lead to rapid sight loss within a few days, the OCT scan allows us to quickly identify the cause of vision loss and make a quick, precise referral for treatment. It is also helpful in monitoring the ongoing effects of treatment and recovery.

Dry AMD is a slow deterioration of the macular at the back of the eye, it currently has no pharmacological cure, although evidence has shown that certain supplements and diet choices can greatly help in slowing the onset and limiting its damage. The OCT scan is very helpful here, letting us detect early signs of the condition before it affects the vision, allowing us to recommend ways to help slow its development. Having frequent scans allows us to monitor the progress of the AMD over time.


One of the most common and serious eye conditions, Glaucoma is an increase in pressure of the fluids within the eye that can lead to damage to the optic nerve and cause permanent vision loss. As part of every eye examination we routinely check for glaucoma using the “puffer test” to check the pressure within the eye (IOPs) but this can only provide warnings when pressures are above the average healthy readings. Some sufferers however can experience ‘Normal-Tension Glaucoma’ where their eye pressures are actually within the clinically “safe” range, but due to the make-up of their eyes, the pressures are high enough to cause damage.

The OCT Scan allows your optometrist to directly view the optic nerve and look for signs of glaucoma damage on the ‘optic disc’, the visible end point of the optic nerve, where glaucoma damage can occur. The nature of this optic disc can vary from person to person and what may be of concern for some eyes is normal for others, so having a scan of your healthy eye can help us to detect very subtle changes as they take place in the future.


Diabetic retinopathy is a sight threatening eye condition that can occur in type I or II diabetics. It is the result of damage caused to the retina by the diabetes that can lead to the production of new blood vessels within the retina which are often prone to collapse, leading to haemorrhaging within the eye.

All diabetic patients in Yorkshire should be registered for annual retinal photographs at a local health centre, but these flat photographs cannot provide as much detail as a 3D scan and we recommend the 3D scan to all diabetic patients as it allows us to detect the onset of the condition at the earliest stage (non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy) and to refer to prompt treatment

What is the difference between OCT
and a Retinal Photograph?

Retinal photography, or ‘Fundus Photography’, is offered by many optical practices – it uses a standard camera and a close-up lens to take a photograph of the back of the eye. It replicates the view of the eye that the optometrist has during your routine eye examination. While it does have advantages over a normal eye test, it cannot offer the detail of a 3D Eye Scan, which allows your optometrist to see far beyond what they can by a visual inspection and view details inside the retina itself. As part of the scan, the OCT will also make measurements, including the thickness of your corneas and the contours of your retina which would not be possible with a photograph.

How often should I have a 3D Eye Scan?

The technology within the OCT scan compares pictures taken over time to help spot subtle changes in your eye’s physiology, so the more often you have the scan, the more effective it will become. Some patients choose to have the scan done at every appointment. Your optometrist will be able to advise on what will be best for you.

A comparison between a retinal photograph and the much greater detail visible on an OCT Scan

How do I book in for a 3D Scan?

An OCT scan is not part of our standard eye exam, We offer the OCT at an additional charge of £20 per scan, you can book this by calling 01582 728731 and speaking to one our experienced members of staff.

The OCT scan is also available in addition to NHS eye examinations and for patients of any age for £20