In order for your eyes to work properly, the blood vessels inside the eyes, which form part of the inner structure, need to be healthy. Various conditions can affect the health of your blood vessels which can affect your retina (the part of the eye where images are formed). 

As vascular eye issues can lead to significant visual problems, it’s important that they are caught early. Technologies which allow us an ever-clearer view of the inside of the eye are constantly emerging, and here we look into how optical coherence tomography (OCT) scanning can help detect vascular eye issues.

What is retinal vascular occlusion?

This is a blockage in one of the arteries or veins of the retina. The blockage prevents blood from draining properly and it leaks into the retina, which can lead to a build-up of fluid in the macula, behind the retina — also known as macular oedema.1 This can result in potential vision loss.

An OCT scan would be able to show if there was a blockage in the blood vessels and how it could be treated. Compared to the traditional method of fluorescein angiography, OCT is more effective in detecting retinal vascular occlusion and the presence of macular oedema.2

Can OCT detect eye aneurysm?

An aneurysm is a swelling in a blood vessel due to a weakness of the vessel wall. It carries the risk of bursting and bleeding. The abnormal expansion of the wall of the blood vessel in an eye aneurysm is easily visible on an OCT scan, but often they will have no other symptoms.2 This is why it is so important to get your eyes checked regularly — at Specsavers, an OCT scan is a standard option available in many of our stores.

How can OCT help manage vascular eye issues?

Examination of the eye with an OCT scan provides the optometrist with a unique perspective. It allows direct evaluation of microscopic blood vessels. This is useful in making an accurate diagnosis and guiding appropriate treatment for many vascular eye issues. By getting your eyes scanned regularly, your eye specialist will be able to monitor any progression or recurring vascular eye issues, which can help prevent any deterioration to your sight. OCT is particularly effective at monitoring the resolution of swelling which typically occurs at the same time as an aneurysm. 

To find out more about vascular eye issues and their diagnosis on our  OCT resource — here you can book an appointment with an optician to learn more about this test.

References

1. Nei.nih.gov. (2019). Macular Edema | National Eye Institute. [online] Available at: https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-... [Accessed 16 Dec. 2019].

2. Speilburg AM, Klemencic SA. Ruptured retinal arterial macroaneurysm: diagnosis and management. J Optom. 2014;7(3):131–137. [Online]. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4087178/ [Accessed 23 November 2019].