The introduction of sophisticated sight-saving technology has had a huge impact on people’s lives in the UK, starting with one of our very own. We spoke to Gary Blair, Head of Professional Service Operations, and to Jay Ghadiali, Vision Express Joint Venture Partner about how it’s making a difference.
Gary, what’s the new technology and why’s it special?
GB: It’s called Ocular Coherence Tomography (OCT) technology and it performs a non-invasive scan of the retina using a low powered laser, this significantly increases the rate of early detection and diagnosis of underlying conditions. We recently introduced one in our headquarters in Nottingham.
What did it detect in your own case?
GB: It found a small but unusual raised area when it scanned me. This triggered a referral to a specialist who confirmed that I have something known as central serous retinopathy. This is a medical condition whereby fluid builds up behind the retina in the eye.
Did you have any inkling something was wrong?
GB: I had no symptoms – this was a routine eye exam. However, I was immediately referred to a specialist for a diagnosis and to establish the cause. A failure to detect these symptoms could’ve led to serious problems, which may have gone undetected with traditional examination techniques.
What’s this meant for you personally?
GB:I’m thankful that no surgical intervention’s been necessary, but I’ve had to make big changes in my diet and exercise, so I can prevent future damage and potentially reverse the conditions.
Jay, how significant is OCT in terms of our capabilities?
JG: The OCT has a sophisticated scanning ability that literally transforms the way we detect complications in the eye. These includes things like glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration.
What would’ve happened to Gary if it hadn’t been available?
JG: In Gary’s case early detection was only possible thanks to OCT technology – it simply would not have been picked up through traditional testing. In most cases no treatment is required for this condition, but it can cause blurred or distorted vision due to fluid collecting underneath the macula.
Is there widespread access to OCT across the UK?
JG: OCT has been used at UK ophthalmology departments for some time, but its availability to the public via high street opticians has been limited – until now. Vision Express has introduced the equipment into more than 60 of its stores and with plans to implement OCT in an increasing number of stores. This is crucial if we’re going to be able to keep offering a market leading eye examination.