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What you need to know about ophthalmoscopy

Last Updated: 15.07.24

Ophthalmoscopy is the name given to the test of the fundus of the eye, performed by an ophthalmologist, that is used to determine the health status of your eyes. The analysis includes the examination of parts of the eye, such as the retina, the optic disc, and the blood vessels, and it is used to determine if you are at risk of developing certain eye diseases.

When do you need such a test performed on your eyes?

Certain conditions require the use of such a test. Your doctor may use a pocket ophthalmoscope or a full-fledged model, to examine the status of the fundus of the eye. First thing first, you should know that the doctor will recommend this test when he or she considers that one of the following conditions necessitates further examination.

Damage to the optic nerve is one of the conditions that must be observed with the help of ophthalmoscopy. In case there is a retinal tear, or the retina becomes detached, you also need your ophthalmologist to look at what happens with your eye. Glaucoma, macular degeneration, retinitis, diabetes, melanoma, and hypertension, are other health conditions of the eye that need to be observed by a specialist.


Are there any preparations involved?

What happens when your doctor examines your eye to determine health problems using this type of test is that he or she looks at the pupil, using an intense light. To make things easier, specific eye drops are used to dilate the pupil.

There is a side effect of using these eye drops that you must bear in mind. They tend to make your vision a tad blurry, and you will experience sensitivity to light for at least several hours after you go through with the examination. That is why it is a good idea to bring a pair of sunglasses with you and use them when you need to go back home.

Other measures should be taken, such as enlisting someone’s help to drive you around, and it is a good idea to take the day off from work, especially if clear vision is a requirement of the activity you perform at your workplace.

You should also talk to your doctor about other medications you take, to avoid unpleasant interactions with the eye drops that will be administered. Should you be allergic to certain drugs, you also need to let your doctor know just so that he or she can avoid difficult situations.

A particular eye condition that demands that no eye drops should be used is glaucoma. Even if you don’t know you’re suffering from such a disease, in case you know that other family members suffer from it, you should let your doctor know. The use of eye drops may lead to an increase in eye pressure, and this is something that must be avoided.

What does the test consist of?

The first stage, as described earlier, is the administration of eye drops that have as a central role to dilate the pupil, so that the doctor can quickly examine your eye. Depending on various factors, the doctor can choose a particular type of examination.

The direct examination involves an intense light and the use of an ophthalmoscope. This type of medical instrument is designed specifically for this type of test. As the doctor examines you, he or she will look through this instrument, and notice various details. The ophthalmoscope comes equipped with a set of lenses and an intense light so that the doctor can see anything peculiar. You will be asked to look in different directions as the examination proceeds.

The indirect examination involves the patient sitting in a reclined position. The doctor uses an intense light and a lens placed in front of your eye. Just like in the previous example, the ophthalmologist will ask you to look in different directions to gauge the health status of your eye. While many ophthalmoscope brands are making excellent medical instruments of this type, the doctor can choose the indirect approach, based on his or her expertise.

Another type of examination requires the use of a slit-lamp. This particular piece of equipment will magnify the image of the eye the doctor will see, with the role of making any details more comfortable to view.


Are there any side effects?

When the eye drops are used, you might experience a stinging sensation, and also a strange taste in your mouth. This is nothing but common discomfort, nothing else. You should be aware that while the experience might not be the most pleasant, it is not supposed to be painful.

Once the doctor turns off the intense light used during the examination, you will notice some afterimages, but a few blinks should solve this. Other side effects are related to the use of eye drops and not with the procedure itself.

For instance, you might experience a dry mouth. Also, flushing, as well as nausea and dizziness, might occur. It is not unusual to even have some vomiting sensations. On the list of side effects offered by doctors, you will also notice narrow-angle glaucoma. Make sure that you tell your doctor about any feelings and discomfort you experience, and follow his or her advice.

If you are a professional or in training

All the above information is useful if you are a health care professional, or you’re in training. You can use an ophthalmoscope for medical students if that is the case, to practice. Learning a bit more about the instruments you need as part of your daily job can make learning how to use them easier.

The basis of ophthalmoscopy was described above. You are in charge of choosing your specialization, and, if you plan to become an ophthalmologist, it would be a good idea to read about the various procedures and applications of the discipline you want to follow. A well-informed doctor always does a better job for his or her patients, and that is the most important thing.



Ioana Moldovan

Ioana’s professional experience in the optics field has helped her understand the value of passing her knowledge forward. Her curious personality helps her gather useful information for her readers and her goal is to make technical information fun and accessible to everyone.

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