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Eye Health Center

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Retinal Imaging

Retinal imaging uses special cameras and scanners to make magnified images, or pictures, of the back of your eye camera.gif. This includes the retina. It's the part of the eye that's most responsible for your vision.

Common imaging methods include:

  • Color and black-and-white photography. A camera magnifies the back of your eye and makes pictures.
  • Optical coherence tomography, or OCT. A scanner uses light waves to form an image of the retina on a computer screen.
  • Ultrasound. This test uses sound waves to form the image.
  • Angiogram. A dye is injected into your arm. It flows through your blood to the blood vessels in your eye. The dye makes the blood vessels in your eye easier to see as your doctor looks at your eyes through the camera.

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.

Why It Is Done

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:

  • You have diabetes or diabetic retinopathy. These conditions can lead to poor vision and even blindness. A test can help your doctor see if treatment is working.
  • Your doctor thinks you have wet macular degeneration. It can lead to vision loss. Tests can help find leaky blood vessels in your eye or blood vessels that are not normal, which are part of this disease.
  • Your vision is getting worse and your doctor wants to find out why.

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.

How To Prepare

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.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 09, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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