New machine helps opthalmologists detect early signs of vision loss or problems

May 27, 2015


In children, early signs of vision loss or problems due to retina and/or optic nerve dysfunction can be difficult to detect and diagnose. A new machine, called Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), is the latest imaging technology allowing Texas Children’s pediatric ophthalmologists to evaluate for retinal diseases, uveitis and optic nerve disorders.

52815ophthalmologyinside175“The OCT is an imaging tool that is similar to ultrasound but uses light waves instead of sound waves to create high resolution images of the retina and optic nerve,” said pediatric neuro-ophthalmologist Dr. Veeral Shah. “This type of imaging allows us to detect changes in retina and optic nerve structure that may reflect loss and damage of visual function that might not be visible with an ocular examination.”

The OCT machine produces ancillary images that can reveal and monitor optic nerve edema, atrophy, subretinal fluid and signs of retina degeneration. The machine can image the retina and optic nerve in second, and overall will help pediatric ophthalmologists identify retina/optic nerve damage, which will aid in diagnoses, monitoring disease pathology, and determine precise medical or surgical intervention.

Only a handful of pediatric hospitals have an OCT machine and even fewer private practices have access to one. Texas Children’s purchased two of the machines late last year and have been using them since December. One of the OCT machines is in the Ophthalmology Department’s diagnostic imaging center and is used daily in the ophthalmology clinic. The other OCT machine has a hand-held design that can be used on sedated children or in the operating room to make intraoperative decisions.

“It is a great ancillary modality to make clinical decisions,” Shah said. “It’s especially helpful when evaluating young children who are preverbal, nonverbal, or unable to recognize vision loss.”

The Ophthalmology Division at Texas Children’s Hospital is one of the premier pediatric ophthalmology surgery programs in the nations with exceptional expertise, depth and quality of services and patient volumes. Our ophthalmologists perform more than 1,100 procedures each year and see more than 16,000 patients annually. They also are involved in clinical research to help improve the treatment of pediatric eye disorders.