New state of the art 3D optical scanning now available

The Ophthalmology team at North Downs Hospital are delighted to announce the arrival of 3D Optical Coherence Tomography.

3D OCT screening can detect potentially serious conditions that can affect a person’s eyesight and their overall health. Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) is an advanced eye scan for people of all ages. It is similar to ultrasound but uses light rather than sound waves to image the different layers that make up the structures at the front and the back of the eye. The machine captures both a photograph and a cross-sectional scan of the eye at the same time.

The benefits are obvious with the scans giving their consultants more information than ever before on the health of their patients’ eyes. Consultants at North Downs Hospital will take both a digital and three dimensional cross sectional scan of the back of the 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. The software can automatically detect even the most subtle changes to the retina with every eye test taken, giving an invaluable ongoing record of the health and condition of patients’ eyes.

Common conditions identified through regular OCT screening include:

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)

This is the leading cause of blindness in the UK. AMD causes gradual deterioration of the macula, the central portion of the retina which enables detailed vision. There are two types of AMD – dry and wet. Wet AMD causes rapid reduction in vision and must be treated in hospital quickly. OCT can help identify the earliest signs of AMD and determine whether it is the dry or wet form and help monitor its progress over time.


Over four 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 blindness in people of working age in the UK. An OCT examination helps with early detection of diabetic retinopathy, allowing early referral and management which can improve the success rate of treatment.


This is a condition which causes damage to the optic nerve, the part of the eye which connects to the brain, and causes gradual loss of peripheral vision. Statistics suggest that some form of glaucoma affects around two in every 100 people over the age of 40, rising to almost 1 in 10 people aged over 75. Because the early stages of 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. An OCT examination can measure numerous features at the back of the eye and facilitate early diagnosis of glaucoma and enable close monitoring of eye health year-on-year, allowing identification of glaucomatous changes over time.

Vitreous detachments

As people age the vitreous jelly that takes up the space in the eyeball can change and it becomes less firm and can move away from the back of the eye towards the centre. 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. In some cases parts do not detach and cause a ‘pulling’ of the retinal surface.

The danger of vitreous detachment is that there is no pain and eyesight will seem unchanged but the back of the eye may be being damaged.

Macular holes

This is a small hole in the macula, the part of the retina which is responsible for the sharp, detailed central vision. This is the vision used when looking directly at things such as when reading, sewing or using a computer. 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.

North Downs Hospital's approach

Having an eye scan is simple and painless. Simply book an appointment with one of their ophthalmologist consultants either online or by calling 01883 348981.

Visit the hospital for your scan using the state-of-the-art OCT scan. Your consultant will examine the high resolution 3D images and present the results.

Any future scans can be compared with previous ones for comparative diagnosis.


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New state of the art 3D optical scanning now available

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