What is Retinal Imaging?

testing room

You may have heard about retinal imaging or your optometrist may offer this service. But what is retinal imaging and how can it help your eye health?

This technology essentially takes an image of your eye. More precisely, it shows the retina, optic disk, and the blood vessels within the eye. These are areas that are more difficult to see and while the ophthalmoscope can help doctors see the back of the eye, retinal imaging gives a more precise view of everything. It’s usually used in addition to your average eye exam and can help your optician detect a range of conditions and risk factors.

When Retinal Imaging is Used

When your doctor or optician isn’t sure what is causing your eyesight to deteriorate, they may use this technology to get a better feel for what is going on in your eyes. However, when you have specific conditions, it may also be called for. For example, glaucoma, diabetes, retinal toxicity, and macular degeneration can all affect your eyesight.

The more ways we have to check eyesight and diagnose potential problems, the easier it is to prevent further damage to the eyes. When your optician checks the retina and surrounding area, they can see if there are damages and problems in that area – which, in turn, allows for a more precise diagnosis and a better futureproofing of your healthcare.

How It Works

In order to get the best in imaging, special drops are used in the eyes, which cause the pupil to dilate so the machine can get a better image of the back of the eye. The patient sits with their face in a support to keep the head in a single position and very still (important to ensure the quality of the final image).

While the patient stares ahead, the machine uses a laser to scan the retina and the area around it. The entire process takes just five minutes, with the final digital images subsequently showing on the computer for viewing.

Based on this exam, your optician will be able to diagnose and clearly see if there is damage to the eye. In some cases, a more involved test will be done (particularly if there is a chance of wet macular degeneration). This involves dye being injected into the body, with images are taken once the dye reaches the eye.

Overall, retinal imaging is a painless and a simple way to diagnose a variety of problems. It makes optical conditions much simpler to identify, and allows for an accurate diagnosis. Once your test is completed, you can be prescribed the appropriate medication and treatment to help maintain or recover your eyesight.