Specsavers opticians in Burnham-On-Sea has marked its 14th birthday celebrations by investing in a ‘hospital-quality’ machine that can help detect treatable eye conditions such as diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration sooner.

The store began life in Burnham-On-Sea high street in 2005 and recently underwent a significant refit as part of its investment programme.

The Burnham-On-Sea team say its new OCT (optical coherence tomography) machine only takes a few seconds to run and allows opticians to look deeper into the eyes than ever before. It can help to detect glaucoma up to four years in advance.

This comes as latest statistics show that there will be an estimated 26,500 people living with sight loss across Somerset by 2025. But because nearly half of all sight loss is preventable, an OCT scan means conditions can be managed before they get worse and can help prevent potential sight loss.

Rama Venkat, store director at Burnham-On-Sea Specsavers, told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “This investment gives our team the ability to enhance the services to the local community by helping to detect and manage conditions, with a level of diagnostic capability which previously would have needed a hospital visit.”

An OCT scan uses light to take more than 1,000 images of the back of an eye and beyond, looking right back to the optic nerve and creating a cross-section view.

He adds: “You can imagine it like a cake – we can see the top of the cake and the icing, but the image produced from an OCT scan slices the cake in half and turns it on its side, so we can see all the layers inside. It gives the optician an incredibly accurate picture of your eye and its structures, allowing them to check your eye health.”

Glaucoma is a condition that can creep up on people without any signs or symptoms. For many people, it is caused by a painless rise in pressure inside the eye.

This can cause gradual but irreversible damage to nerve fibres and may lead to tunnel vision if left untreated. However, there are treatment options for glaucoma, and the earlier it’s picked up the better.

Early detection means that treatment with prescribed eye drops, laser treatment or surgery can be started before people experience any significant sight loss — and an OCT scan is a key way to help detect any early changes.

A customer’s OCT images will be stored so the optician can note changes over time – a real benefit to the monitoring of someone’s overall eye health.

An OCT scan is in addition to a normal eye test and can be requested when booking an appointment or when going to the store.

Customers can visit the store at 3 High Street, call 01278 765460 or go online at www.specsavers.co.uk/stores/burnhamonsea