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  • Inflammation of the eye as seen with OCT

Feb 2008
Optical coherence tomography (OCT) has become a widely accepted ophthalmological imaging technique because it can noninvasively penetrate more than a millimeter into the retina, producing cross-sectional images of tissue with submicron axial and lateral resolution. Researchers from the Massachusetts Eye Research and Surgery Institute in Cambridge have reviewed the use of OCT for diagnosing retinal problems associated with uveitic disorders. Uveitis refers to inflammation of the uvea -- the middle part of the eye -- a serious condition that can develop from several causes.

The authors of the review provide examples of morphological features associated with uveitic disorders, as seen with OCT. They note that the technique has proved most useful for recognizing and diagnosing vitreomacular traction syndrome and macular edema, or swelling of the macula -- the yellowish spot in the retina that is responsible for central vision. OCT can quantify the degree of macular edema in microns, and it can determine the morphology of the swelling, either cystoid or cystic. It has a reproducibility rate as high as 1.5 percent among patients with this condition.

Vitreomacular traction occurs when the vitreous gel that fills the center of the eye pulls on the macula, which can result in detachment. OCT can determine the two main morphological types of this condition. Moreover, the hyaloid artery that runs through the middle of the vitreous from front to back is not usually apparent, but it becomes noticeable when detachment occurs.

The authors conclude that OCT is complementary to other diagnostic methods and is “imperative” to use before making a diagnosis. It is useful for detecting the morphological features of uveitic diseases, information that can enable early diagnosis and disease-specific treatment. (British Journal of Ophthalmology, December 2007, pp. 1680-1685.)

optical coherence tomography (oct)
A noninvasive (typically medical) optical imaging acquisition technique that uses light waves to form distinct, three dimensional, layered cross-sectional images of an optical scattering media (i.e. biological tissue) such as a patient’s retina. In ophthalmology, OCT measurements allow an ophthalmologist to thoroughly map and measure the thickness of the retina as well as aide in the early detection, diagnosis and treatment for retina disease and other conditions.
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