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Q&A regarding OCT Eye Test with Dr. Gustafson

Q: What is an OCT?

A: OCT stands for Optical Coherence Tomography. OCT is a specialized scan that utilizes light waves to obtain a cross-sectional image of the retina. It is impossible to see this level of detail directly during and examination, so OCT technology is an excellent way to find eye disease earlier.

Q: For whom is it recommended to do an OCT test?

A: Everyone should have a baseline OCT once. This gives the eye doctor comprehensive information on your risk for glaucoma or any variations in the anatomy of your retina. The OCT also gives the doctor information to reference in the future if your eye health status changes.

Q: What conditions can an OCT diagnose?

A: An OCT can aid in diagnosing many conditions earlier and with much more precision than traditional methods have allowed in the past. By measuring the thickness of specific layers of the retina, the OCT helps more accurately predict a patient’s individual risk for developing glaucoma.

The OCT can diagnose very mild conditions that would otherwise go undetected, such as swelling in the macula (center of your vision), changes from diabetes, and early macular degeneration.

Q: To what patients do you recommend using the OCT?

A: We recommend a baseline OCT to all patients age 40 and older. Patients of all ages with a family history or risk factors for glaucoma and macular degeneration should also have an OCT scan. All patients with diabetes should undergo OCT testing yearly as well.

Q: Can you describe the patient experience when using the OCT?

A: The OCT is a quick and painless test; it is similar to having a picture taken. The patient is positioned to lean onto a chin rest and look at a target. There is a brief bright light for each image taken – typically 1-2 images will be taken per eye. The eye doctor sees the results of the test immediately and will go over them during the examination.

Q: How much is an OCT test? Is it covered by insurance?

A: A basic wellness OCT is $29. This is the introductory OCT test that we recommend everyone undergo once to have a baseline on file. Insurance does not cover this type of OCT. If anything that needs further testing is detected on the wellness OCT, your doctor may recommend more comprehensive OCT testing that can likely be billed to your medical insurance.

Q: What is it about this particular technology that you find most exciting?

A: The OCT gives our clinic a powerful tool for detecting and diagnosing eye disease. Previously, patients who needed this test had to be referred to a specialist. I am most excited to provide this next level of care to our patients without the inconvenience and expense of a specialist appointment.

The OCT adds another layer to our comprehensive care and allows us to gather even more information on your eye health. This aids us in making treatment decisions for patients now and down the road if changes arise.

Q: How often should I have an OCT scan?

A: There isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ answer to this question as it depends on your individual eye health and your family history. Some patients will need a yearly OCT and some patients will only need the OCT every 2-3 years. Your doctor will let you know what your appropriate test interval is during your examination.

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