3D OCT Eye and Retinal Scanning

The most detailed examination of the health of the eye

What is the OCT 3D Eye Scan?

The OCT (Optical Coherence Tomography) is an advanced process 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 within the layers of the retina, showing details like the blood vessels and the optic nerve that are not otherwise visible to us. 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, which can allow detection of subtle changes that could be early signs of an eye condition.

Using the images and information from the scan, our optometrists have been able to identify the early stages of serious eye conditions, before the patients noticed any symptoms, allowing for rapid referral and treatment. We have also been able to reassure patients with concerns that no problems are evident.

How do I book in for a 3D Scan?

An OCT scan is part of the toolkit of a full eye examination, it can be combined with our Advanced Private Eye Examination, or our detailed NHS Eye Examinations if you are eligible for an NHS-funded test. See our private fees page for pricing details.

The scan only take a few seconds to perform, but our optometrists then thoroughly analyse the results, letting you see the full detail of the interior of your eye – we allow around 10 minutes for this. No eye drops are required for the scan. You can telephone, e-mail or pop into practice if you have any queries.

Conditions detected and monitored by the 3D Scan

Retinal and Vitreous Detachment

OCT Scan showing a large retinal detachment

A retinal detachment is a very severe condition in which the delicate sensory layers of the retina at the back of the eye, responsible for receiving the images that provide your eyesight, pull away from the lower layers that provide blood and nerve supply. A retinal detachment needs to be treated as soon as possible by corrective surgery or it can lead to complete sight loss in the affected eye.

By allowing us to get a side view of the retina, the 3D Scan is the most powerful tool in detecting a detachment when patients attend with concerning symptoms and allows us to make an instant diagnosis and refer to the hospital for immediate treatment, or to reassure patients that there are no issues and avoid unnecessary stress and hospital referrals.

Regular scans can also be very useful for detecting if you are at increased risk of suffering from a retinal detachment. A vitreous detachment is an age related condition, where the vitreous (a jelly-like substance that fills the eye) pulls away from the retina – this is normally harmless and has no effect on your vision, but occasionally the vitreous can pull the retina with it causing a detachment. The 3D scan is the best way to detect these vitreous moves, so we can monitor them and make you aware of potential risks.

Macular Degeneration (AMD)

OCT Scan showing signs of AMD

The most common cause of sight loss in individuals over 50 in Britain, Age-related Macular Degeneration (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.


OCT Technology spotting nerve damage, a key sign of Glaucoma

One of the most common 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 guidelines. 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, damage is still being caused.

The OCT Scan allows your optometrist to directly view the optic nerve and look for signs of glaucoma 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.


OCT Scan displaying early signs of Diabetic Retinopathy

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 for prompt treatment. The scan also allows us to detect other conditions which are not checked for during the diabetic photography.

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 see during a visual inspection and to view details inside the retina itself. As part of the scan, the OCT will also make and record measurements, including calculating 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 scan is a snapshot in time and as the eye changes, so the scans need to be updated too. 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, we are happy to provide advise on how often a scan is recommended for you, just ask at your appointment.

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