What is ophthalmoscopy?
Ophthalmoscopy is a test that allows your ophthalmologist,
or eye doctor, to look at the back of your eye. This part of your eye is called
the fundus, and consists of:
This test is often included in a routine eye exam to screen
for eye diseases. Your eye doctor may also order it if you have a condition that
affects your blood vessels, such as high blood pressure or diabetes.
Ophthalmoscopy may also be called funduscopy or retinal
When is ophthalmoscopy used?
Your eye doctor can use ophthalmoscopy to screen for eye
diseases and conditions that can affect blood vessels. These conditions include:
to your optic nerve
tear or detachment
which is excessive pressure in your eye
degeneration, a loss of vision in the center of your visual field
(CMV) retinitis, an infection of your retina
a type of skin cancer that can spread to your eye
which is also known as high blood pressure
How should you prepare for ophthalmoscopy?
Before conducting an ophthalmoscopy, your eye doctor may use
eye drops to dilate your pupils. This makes them larger and easier to look
These eye drops can make your vision blurry and sensitive to
light for a few hours. You should bring sunglasses to your appointment to
protect your eyes from bright light while your pupils are dilated. And you
should arrange for someone to drive you home after your test. If you do work
that requires clear vision, such as operating heavy machinery, you should also arrange
to take the rest of the day off.
If you’re allergic to any medications, tell your eye doctor.
They will likely avoid using eye drops if you’re at risk of an allergic
Some medications may also interact with the eye drops. It’s important
to tell your eye doctor about any medications that you take, including
over-the-counter medications, prescription medications, and dietary supplements.
Finally, you should tell your eye doctor if you have
glaucoma or a family history of glaucoma. They probably won’t use eye drops if they
know or suspect that you have glaucoma. The drops could increase the pressure
in your eye too much.
What happens during the test?
At the beginning of the procedure, your eye doctor may use eye
drops to dilate your pupils. The drops may cause your eyes to sting for a few
seconds. They can also cause an unusual taste in your mouth.
Your doctor will examine the back of your eye after your
pupils are dilated. There are three different types of examinations that could
- direct examination
- indirect examination
- slit-lamp examination
Your doctor may perform one or more of these examinations to
get a good view of your eye.
You’ll be seated in a chair. The lights in the room will be
turned off. Your eye doctor will sit across from you and use an ophthalmoscope
to examine your eye.
An ophthalmoscope is an instrument that has a light and
several small lenses on it. Your eye doctor can look through the lenses to
examine your eye. They may ask you to look in certain directions as they conduct
This test allows your eye doctor to see the structures in
the back of your eye in more detail.
For this test, you’ll be asked to lie down or sit in a
reclined position. Your eye doctor will wear a bright light positioned on their
forehead. They will shine it in your eye while holding a lens in front of your
eye to help them examine it.
Your doctor may ask you to look in certain directions while
they examine the back of your eye. They may also apply some pressure to your
eye using a small, blunt probe.
This procedure gives your eye doctor the same view of your
eye as an indirect examination, but with greater magnification.
You’ll sit with an instrument in front of you, known as a
slit-lamp. It will have a place for you to rest your chin and forehead. This will
help keep your head steady during your exam.
Once you’re positioned, your eye doctor will turn on a bright
light in front of your eye. Then they will use a microscope to look at the back
of your eye. They may ask you to look in different directions, and use their finger
to open your eye to get a better view. They may also apply some pressure to
your eye using a small, blunt probe.
What are the risks?
An ophthalmoscopy is sometimes uncomfortable, but it
shouldn’t be painful. You may see afterimages after the light has been turned
off. Those afterimages should go away after you blink several times.
In rare cases, you may react to the eye drops. This may
your doctor for more information about the potential risks and side effects.