The usefulness of OCT in optical retail settings

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Posted by Erik van Dijk

Erik has previously worked for 10 years at Philips in various parts of the business and in different roles, most recently at Philips Healthcare in R&D management. Since his start at EasyScan in 2015 he headed the operations (supply chain/technical support) and R&D team. In 2017, Erik became the CEO. Erik has a PhD in Physics from the University of Twente.

In the latest issue of the Insight magazine, Australia’s leading Ophthalmic magazine, there is a large feature article on whether or not it makes sense to do routine screening with an OCT of the general public. This is in particular relevant for optical retailers to consider. A panel of experts with different backgrounds provide their view points. An interesting element not mentioned is who should pay for it? If an Optometrist is offering this exam as an extra service how is he or she compensated for the service provided? Does that cover the cost to the store?

From Dr. Ly’ has a Research point of view and warns that although the OCT is an excellent tool to gain deeper understanding of the exact phenotype, it has a higher false positive risk and can increase referral. For her a more targeted approach for screening is seen as key to make the tool cost effective.

Peter Larsen from Specsavers Australia offers their cooperate view point, as in the UK, Specsavers Australia is rolling out OCT’s to all their retail outlets. He explains that it is part of a broader push to improve the eyecare they can provide and that an OCT is never used in isolation for referrals. They have shown impressive results in finding more glaucoma patients.

The Chief Clinical Officer of Optometry Australia, Luke Arundel, explains that more evidence is needed before recommending that OCT imaging should be a standard part of a comprehensive Eye Exam. There are no studies that show that it makes sense at this time to perform screening on all patients entering an optical retail practice.

Nitin Verma, Clinical Professor at RANZCO, sees that the use of OCTs is getting routine and claims that as long as that there is no evidence of excessive costs associated with over diagnosis he prefers to use it in routine setting to be able to detect more pathologies. He even sees it plaining a role in diabetic screening in the future. However at this time the guidelines of the RANZCO for AMD, DR and Glaucoma do not recommend the use of OCT as primary screening tool. This might change if more evidence becomes available.

Finally, Mrs Annie Gibbins the Chief Executive Officer of Glaucoma Australia welcomes the use of OCT, since it finds more and more glaucoma patients in an earlier stage which allows better treatment.

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