REVIEW – December 2014

Optical coherence tomography – a path from the eye to the brain

Authors: Reili Rebane, Kristel Harak

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Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a noninvasive method for examination of the retina and the optic nerve. Recent studies suggest that it also gives valuable information about the course of neurologic diseases. The OCT captures the light reflected from the tissue and analyses it using the principles of interferometry. As a result, it obtains crosssectional images of tissues with a resolution of approximately 5 microns. Multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer`s and Parkinson`s diseases cause optic nerve fibre loss, which is measurable with OCT. Thus OCT offers the ability to record, detect, and assess early and subtle deviations in neuronal structures. In papilloedema, it provides valuable information for differential diagnosis. The limitations of the method include individual variations (e.g. in the case of myopic eyes), difficulties acquiring an image in the case of media opacities, lack of a database for children and the need for steady patient fixation. In the future interest in OCT among neurologists will evidently grow and ophthalmologists may be able to contribute to the management of neurologic diseases.