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OCT Screening

OCT SCANNING AT GIBSON & SYME, EDINBURGH What do the International Space Station, Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion and Gibson & Syme eyecare in Edinburgh have in common? They all have the same ultra-performance model of OCT scanning equipment produced by German engineering company, Heidelberg. But what is OCT scanning and why is this piece of optical machinery revolutionising eyecare?


OCT – or Optical Coherence Tomography to give it its full name – is the latest ground-breaking technology for early detection of eye disease such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, macular holes, vitreous detachments, eye tumours and diabetes. It’s like a CAT scan for your eyes; a completely non-invasive screening procedure that delivers instant 4D high-definition images of the cross section of the retina, retinal nerve fibre layer and optical nerve head – and it’s available at only two places in Edinburgh’s city centre – Gibson & Syme opticians in Bonnington Road and the Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion. Why is this significant?

PRIORITISING NHS EYE APPOINTMENTS The Eye Pavilion, like other NHS facilities is stretched to capacity. This means prioritising referrals from opticians based on the most urgent. Most referrals, the result of standard ophthalmic tests, are given when the optician suspects something is wrong. However, an OCT scan using the latest Heidelberg engineered equipment can pinpoint abnormalities to within 1 micron (0.001 millimetre), taking the guesswork out of the equation. When an issue is detected the digital images can be sent directly to the Eye Pavilion and the hospital can then decide how quickly the person needs to be seen, and urgent pre-defined eye health issues will usually be prioritised over suspected cases. This is particularly important for elderly people.

WET VERSUS DRY MACULAR DEGENERATION One eye condition that is usually age related is macular degeneration. The macula is an area within the retina towards the back of the eye. It has a highly concentrated system of photoreceptor cells and is responsible for our direct vision. The rest of the retina is responsible for our peripheral vision. A typical symptom of macular degeneration is a blurring of images directly in front while the peripheral vision appears fine. Sufferers may often describe it as ‘looking down a tunnel’ - faces are blurred but everything else is clear. However, there are two types of macular degeneration (MD) – wet and dry. An OCT scan goes beyond the macular area to the layers behind and can pinpoint which type of MD it is instantly and here’s the good news. While dry macular degeneration can’t be treated, wet MD can. A referral based on an accurate diagnosis can immediately be given to the NHS who are more likely to be able to save someone’s sight if the condition is caught early enough.

WHAT DOES OCT INVOLVE AND HOW MUCH DOES IT COST? Gibson & Syme have invested in the highest specification OCT scanner in Edinburgh to match the one at the Eye Pavilion. The actual OCT procedure takes around 10-minutes, is completely painless and non-invasive and simply involves looking into a lens while the camera captures images of the eye. The procedure is repeated for the other eye and the optician then explains the findings from the images. The cost is £55 for an OCT scan which is reduced to £35 if carried out at the same time as an eye exam. We only have one pair of eyes, so for the cost of a trip to a dental hygienist or nail salon you can get complete peace of mind that your eyes are in good working order, or an opportunity to deal with eye health issues before they become serious. And, if it’s good enough for astronaut Tim Peake, it’s good enough for clients of Gibson & Syme. Find out more about OCT scanning at Gibson & Syme opticians by calling 0131 553 9000 today.


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