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Ophthalmoscopy

Definition

Ophthalmoscopy is an examination of the back part of the eye (fundus), which includes the retina, optic disc, choroid, and blood vessels.

Alternative Names

Funduscopy

How the Test is Performed

There are different types of ophthalmoscopy.

The ophthalmoscopy examination takes about 5 to 10 minutes.

How to Prepare for the Test

Indirect ophthalmoscopy and slit-lamp ophthalmoscopy are performed after eyedrops are placed to widen (dilate) the pupils. Direct ophthalmoscopy and slit-lamp ophthalmoscopy can be performed with or without the pupil dilated.

The eyedrops may make it hard for you to focus your eyes for several hours. You should arrange to have someone drive you after the examination. Wearing sunglasses or tinted lenses will help your eyes feel more comfortable.

You should tell your provider if you:

How the Test will Feel

The bright light will be uncomfortable, but the test is not painful.

You may briefly see images after the light shines in your eyes. The light is brighter with indirect ophthalmoscopy, so the sensation of seeing after-images may be greater.

Pressure on the eye during indirect ophthalmoscopy may be slightly uncomfortable, but it should not be painful.

If eyedrops are used, they may sting briefly when placed in the eyes. You may also have an unusual taste in your mouth.

Why the Test is Performed

Ophthalmoscopy is done as part of a routine physical or complete eye examination.

It is used to detect and evaluate symptoms of retinal detachment or eye diseases such as glaucoma.

Ophthalmoscopy may also be done if you have signs or symptoms of high blood pressure, diabetes, or other diseases that affect the blood vessels.

Normal Results

The retina, blood vessels, and the optic disc appear normal.

What Abnormal Results Mean

Abnormal results may be seen on ophthalmoscopy with any of the following conditions:

Ophthalmoscopy is considered to be 90 to 95% accurate. It can detect the early stages and effects of many serious diseases. For conditions that cannot be detected by ophthalmoscopy, there are other techniques and devices that may be helpful.

Risks

The test itself involves no risk. In rare cases, the dilating eyedrops cause:

If narrow-angle glaucoma is suspected, drops are usually not used.

References

American Academy of Ophthalmology Preferred Practice Patterns Committee. Preferred Practice Pattern Guidelines. Comprehensive Adult Medical Eye Evaluation -- 2010. Available at: one.aao.org/preferred-practice-pattern/comprehensive-adult-medical-eye-evaluation--octobe. Accessed February 26, 2015.

Colenbrander A. Principles of ophthalmoscopy. In: Tasman W, Jaeger EA, eds. Duane's Ophthalmology. 2013 ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2013:vol 1, chap 63.

Miller D, Thall EH, Atebara NH. Ophthalmic instrumentation. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2014:chap 2.8.

Volk D. Aspheric lenses. In: Tasman W, Jaeger EA, eds. Duane's Ophthalmology. 2013 ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2013:vol 1, chap 50.


Review Date: 2/23/2015
Reviewed By: Franklin W. Lusby, MD, ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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