By Lorie Lippiatt, OD

The use of optical coherence tomography (OCT) technology in optometry practices has become vital in the diagnosis of macular, retinal and optic nerve disease. Ten years ago, “time-domain” OCT technology was a game-changer in our practice, as it allowed better diagnosis while eliminating unnecessary referrals. As technology improved, we upgraded to the newer “spectral domain” OCT technology, which improved speed of image acquisition, number of scans per second and resolution, and provided us with better images for patients with a small pupil. We are better able to diagnose, monitor and educate patients in our practice.

Other benefits of OCT technology include our ability to monitor the progression of a disease process and show patients why they may not be seeing 20/20. We can assure them that there is no retinal disease in play, and if we detect glaucoma, macular edema or retinal defects, there’s a chance we’ll be making that diagnosis earlier. Finally, the cross-sectional visualization of the cornea and measurement of corneal angles and thickness will provide more data.

The newer technologies, including optical coherence tomography angiography (OCTA) add a whole new level of patient care and management to the equation. A trained technician can measure retinal and optic disc vasculature using a noninvasive procedure. This new information is transformational in the management of patients in providing an assessment of change between visits and diagnosing vasculature changes earlier.

I value new technologies, as they allow me to provide the highest level of care possible. Because of our patient demographics, a significant aging population and high density of diabetics and hypertensives, we plan on implementing the new OCTA technology from industry leader Optovue early in 2019. This new technology will enable better visualization of the retinal, choroidal and optic disc vasculature — which will once again improve my ability to diagnose and assist my patient base. An added bonus is that Optovue’s data transfer solution will maintain all of our past data for continuous patient management — a win-win!

Dr. Lippiatt is HEA Executive Vice President, Professional Strategies, and is the owner of Salem Eyecare Center, Inc., in Salem, Ohio