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Home > Patient & Family Resources > Health Library > Retinal Imaging
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Retinal imaging uses special cameras and scanners to make magnified images, or pictures, of the back of your eye. This includes the retina. It's the part of the eye that's most responsible for your vision.
Common imaging methods include:
A test called fundus autofluorescence is sometimes used. Special lighting lets the doctor see microscopic changes in your eye that are caused by certain conditions.
These tests help doctors find and treat eye problems. Doctors can see if a disease is getting worse or if treatment is working.
You may need retinal imaging if:
Eye exams, including retinal imaging, may help your doctor find a problem before it has a chance to get worse. And this gives you a better chance of protecting your vision. Retinal imaging should not take the place of a complete eye exam.
If you know that the doctor will use drops to widen, or dilate, your pupils, think about having someone else drive you home. The drops make your eyes very sensitive to light. You may not be able to see well for a few hours. If you have sunglasses, take them with you to wear on the way home.
If you wear contact lenses, you may want to take your eyeglasses with you.
Retinal imaging tests are done in a hospital or doctor's office.
For some tests, the doctor will first use eyedrops to widen, or dilate, your pupils. You'll sit and wait for about half an hour for the drops to take effect.
For most tests, you'll sit in a chair facing the camera. You'll place your chin on a chin rest. And you'll brace your forehead against a bar to keep it still.
Keep your mouth closed, open your eyes as wide as you can, and stare straight ahead. You can breathe and blink normally while the camera photographs or scans your eyes.
It only takes a few minutes to take the pictures.
Before an angiogram, a dye is injected into your vein.
Eyes closed: You sit in a chair with your eyes closed. The doctor puts ultrasound gel on your eyelid. Then the doctor gently moves a small ultrasound wand against your eyelid.
Eyes open: Eyedrops are used to numb your eyes. The doctor moves the ultrasound wand against the front surface of your eye.
The tests themselves don't cause pain or discomfort. For some tests, very bright light may shine in your eye.
If your eyes have been dilated, they will be very sensitive to light for several hours. Your vision may be a little blurry.
The dye used in an angiogram may cause a metallic taste in your mouth. You may also have mild nausea and a brief feeling of warmth. Your urine may be orange for a day or two.
In some people, the dilating eyedrops can cause an allergic reaction.
The dye used in an angiogram may upset your stomach. You may feel flushed. These symptoms pass quickly. If you're pregnant, talk to your doctor about possible risks to your baby.
Some people are allergic to the dye. Tell your doctor if you feel lightheaded, need to vomit, or feel itchy after the dye is injected. Very rarely, a person may have a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) and need emergency care.
The retina looks healthy.
Current as of:
April 29, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Patrice Burgess MD - Family MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineE. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Current as of: April 29, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Patrice Burgess MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
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