Seeing more of your eye than ever before
Specsavers rolls out a scan on a hospital quality machine that can detect eye problems before they reach advanced stages
Kevin Gleeson being tested by Specsavers’ OCT machine. Photograph: Conor Mulhern
Eye care is not always at the top of everyone’s to-do list, but Specsavers has introduced a new hospital-quality scanner, providing customers with a level of eye care beyond what has been previously available.
The optical coherence tomography (OCT) 3D scanner allows your Specsavers optician to obtain a more comprehensive and precise image of the eye’s structures.
This can help detect treatable eye conditions such as diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration sooner. It can also help detect glaucoma up to four years in advance. It also means conditions can be managed before they get worse and in turn help prevent potential sight loss.
Kevin Gleeson recently tested the scan in Specsavers Blanchardstown and ophthalmic optician, Shirley Mill, talked him through the procedure and its many benefits.
What does the OCT 3D scanner do?
Mill explained the main purpose of the scan is to help provide early detection of any problems with your sight so that they can be treated and managed before they get worse. It gives your optician an incredibly accurate picture of your eye and its structures, and allows them to look more deeply into your eyes than ever before. The images will be stored so the optician can note changes over time when you come back for your next eye test.
What is the OCT scan looking for?
The scanner is essentially looking for any abnormalities at the back of the eye, Mill told me. Abnormalities can be signs of conditions such as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy or may signify macular degeneration. Your macula is the part of your eye which you use to focus on detail so it is one of the most important parts of your eye, she says.
Often as we get older the macular can start to degenerate and the OCT scan can detect this before you start showing any symptoms enabling your optician to provide early management and helping to prevent potential sight loss. The scan can also take a look at your disc which is where the optic nerve connects your brain with your eye. This can show if there are any issues in the area such as swelling or damage, Mill explains. Any problems which may be detected in the disc area of the eye can not only relate to the health of your sight, but they can also be symptoms of a neurological condition too.
How long does the test take?
The test doesn’t take very long at all. It is done at the same time as your normal eye test and only takes a few seconds.
Is the scan uncomfortable?
No, it doesn’t hurt at all. Like most people, I was a little bit worried before having the scan in case it was intrusive in any way. Many of us don’t like the idea of having our eyes closely inspected but the scan itself wasn’t uncomfortable at all. Clinical co-ordinator Alex put me completely at ease as she explained the procedure beforehand. Then placing my chin on the chin rest attached to the camera, all I had to do was focus on a green light and not blink as the scanner took images of each eye. I didn’t feel a thing and it was over in a matter of seconds
How does the OCT scanner work?
It uses light to take more than 1,000 images of the back of your eye, all the way back to your optic nerve and the surrounding areas, Mill says, creating a cross section view.
The scanner then turns that image on its side and cuts through it so that your optician can evaluate all of the different layers that just wouldn’t be seen in a normal examination as they sit beneath the visible top layer. If you imagine a cake - we can see the top of the cake and icing, but the image produced from an OCT scan slices the cake in half and turns it on its side so we can see all the layers inside.
By being able to see all of the layers that make up your eye the optician can get a deeper and clearer look at your eye health, making it easier to monitor for the earliest signs of any treatable conditions.
Who should be tested?
Mill says diabetics, people with a history of problems with the back of the eye and anyone over 25 should make an appointment. It is recommended that all being well with your sight you should still make time every two years to book in for your OCT scan.
The test is currently available in Specsavers stores across Ireland. You can book online at www.specsavers.ie or by calling into or phoning your local Specsavers store.