What do you need to know about Digital retinophotography?
Digital retinal imaging is a quick and painless way for the ophthalmologist to look inside the eye and track changes in vision. Digital retinal imaging, also known as retinophotography, is a non-invasive diagnostic tool that produces high-resolution, color digital images of the retina, optic nerve and blood vessels in the posterior pole of the eye. Digital retinal imaging has become a vitally important test used for early detection of eye diseases.
Digital retinophotography takes a digital image of the back of the eye. It highlights the retina (where light and images arrive), the optic disc (a point on the retina that holds the optic nerve, which sends information to the brain) and blood vessels. This helps the ophthalmologist detect certain diseases and check the health of the eyes.
Doctors have long used an instrument called an ophthalmoscope to look at the back of the eye.
Digital retinophotography allows us to get a much larger digital image of the retina.
The images are stored electronically to allow any changes in the retina to be detected and measured at each eye examination.
Retinal imaging does not replace a regular eye examination, but it allows a wider and more accurate view of the retina for early detection of eye diseases.
What does digital retinophotography involve?
Special drops will be instilled to dilate the pupils. It will take about 20 minutes for the eyes to be ready for examination.
Next, you will place your chin and forehead on a support to keep your head firm. You will open your eyes as wide as possible and look straight ahead at an object while a laser scans your eyes. The images are uploaded to a computer so the doctor can look at them. If the doctor thinks you might have wet macular degeneration, you’ll probably also need a fluorescein angiogram. The usual test takes 5 minutes. The fluorescein angiogram takes about 30 minutes.
If the eyes have been dilated, vision will be blurred for about 4 hours. You will also be sensitive to sunlight. You will need to wear sunglasses and have someone to drive you home. If fluorescein dye has been used, do not put contact lenses in your eyes for about 4 hours so that they are not stained by the dye.
What can be diagnosed by digital retinophotography?
Your doctor may recommend digital retinophotography if you have the following diseases or disorders:
Diabetes: This disease can damage blood vessels in the retina. Over time, it causes you to lose your vision if not controlled.
Macular degeneration: the central part of the retina (macula) begins to deteriorate with ageing. You may experience blurred vision and find it harder to focus. There are two types of macular degeneration: wet and dry. Dry macular degeneration is by far the most common form of this disease (up to 90% of cases). It happens when the blood vessels under the retina become thin and fragile. Abnormal blood vessels growing under the retina cause wet macular degeneration. Vision loss is usually rapid. Digital retinal photography is very important in detecting this type of macular degeneration.
Glaucoma: This disease affects your optic nerve (located in the retina) and can cause vision loss. It usually happens when fluid builds up in the front of the eye. It can even cause blindness, but normally progresses slowly and can be treated with special eye drops to relieve the pressure caused by the fluid.
Retinal toxicity: the arthritis medicine called hydroxychloroquine can damage your retina.
Others: if your vision is decreasing and it’s not clear why, if you are hypertensive or have high cholesterol.