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.
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.
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, drops are usually not used.
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.
Prokopich CL, Hrynchak P, Elliott DB, Flanagan JG. Ocular health assessment. In: Elliott DB, ed. Clinical Procedures in Primary Eye Care. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 7.
Review Date: 2/7/2017
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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