Ophthalmoscopy 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. See a picture of the
structures of the eye .
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 wears a light attached to a headband and
uses a small handheld lens. 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
Why It Is Done
Ophthalmoscopy is done to:
- Detect problems or diseases of the eye, such as
- Help diagnose other conditions or diseases that
damage the eye.
- Evaluate symptoms, such as
- 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
- You are allergic to dilating or
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
medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).
How It Is Done
This type of exam can be
done with or without eyedrops.
- Your eyes may be dilated and you will be
seated in a darkened room and asked to stare straight ahead at some distant
spot in the room.
- Looking through the ophthalmoscope, your doctor
will move very close to your face and shine a bright light into one of your
eyes. Each eye is examined separately.
- Try to hold your eyes steady