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Ophthalmoscopy

Funduscopy; Funduscopic exam

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

Images

Eye
Lateral eye anatomy

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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 often 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.

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

If you receive drops to dilate your eyes for the ophthalmoscopy, your vision will be blurred.

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

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

Related Information

Retina
High blood pressure - adults
Systemic
CMV retinitis
High blood pressure and eye disease
Macular degeneration - age-related
Melanoma of the eye
Type 2 diabetes
Optic neuritis
Retinal detachment

References

Atebara NH, Miller D, Thall EH. Ophthalmic instruments. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 2.5.

Ball JW, Dains JE, Flynn JA, Solomon BS, Stewart RW. Eyes. In: Ball JW, Dains JE, Flynn JA, Solomon BS, Stewart RW, eds. Seidel's Guide to Physical Examination. 8th ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier Mosby; 2015:chap 11.

Feder RS, Olsen TW, Prum BE Jr, et al. Comprehensive adult medical eye evaluation preferred practice pattern guidelines. Ophthalmology. 2016;123(1):209-236. PMID: 26581558 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26581558.

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Review Date: 2/28/2019  

Reviewed By: Franklin W. Lusby, MD, ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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