Ophthalmoscopy (also called fundoscopy) is a test that allows a doctor to see inside the back of the eye (called the fundus) and other structures using a magnifying instrument (ophthalmoscope) and a light source. It is done as part of an eye exam and may be done as part of a routine physical exam.
The fundus contains a lining of nerve cells (the retina), which detects images seen by the clear, outer covering of the eye (cornea). The fundus also contains blood vessels and the optic nerve.
There are two types of ophthalmoscopy.
Direct ophthalmoscopy. Your doctor uses an instrument about the size of a small flashlight with several lenses that can magnify up to about 15 times.
Indirect ophthalmoscopy. Your doctor uses a small handheld lens and either a slit lamp microscope or a light attached to a headband. Indirect ophthalmoscopy provides a wider view of the inside of the eye and allows a better view of the fundus even if the lens is clouded by cataracts .
Why It Is Done
Ophthalmoscopy is done to:
- Detect problems or diseases of the eye, such as retina problems.
- Help diagnose other conditions or diseases that damage the eye.
- Evaluate symptoms, such as headaches.
- Detect other problems or diseases, such as head injuries or brain tumors.
How To Prepare
No special preparation is needed before having this test.
Your doctor may use eyedrops to widen (dilate) your pupils. This makes it easier to see the back of the eye. The eyedrops take about 15 to 20 minutes to dilate the pupil fully. Your doctor may also use eyedrops to numb the surface of your eyes. Tell your doctor if:
- You or anyone else in your family has glaucoma.
- You are allergic to dilating or anesthetic eyedrops.
You may have trouble focusing your eyes for several hours after the test. You may wish to arrange to have someone drive you home after the test. You also will need to wear sunglasses when you go outside or into a brightly lit room.
Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results may mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).