What Is the Purpose of Fundus Photography?

By Dr. Anita Dhanorkar, BHMS

Your eye specialist (ophthalmologist) may order for fundus photography to detect, follow, and treat eye illnesses such as follows:

Glaucoma (increased pressure in the eye can damage the eye nerve over time)

Diabetic retinopathy (eye complication in people with diabetes) such as follows:

  • Macular edema (swelling of the central part of the interior surface of your eye)
  • Microaneurysms (dilatation of the small vessels inside your eye)

Hypertensive retinopathy (eye complication in people with high blood pressure)

  • White or cotton wool spots on the nerve fibers inside your eye

Age-related macular degeneration (deterioration of the central part of the interior surface of your eye due to age)

Optic atrophy (eye nerve damage)

Papilledema (swelling of the eye nerve)

Cancer of eye

Retinoblastoma (tumor inside your eye)

Color vision deficiencies

Congenital glaucoma (high pressure inside the eyeball since birth)

Congenital rubella (contagious viral infection of the eyes since birth)

Congenital anomalies (defect in the eyes since birth)

Toxoplasmosis (parasitic infection of the eyes)

What is fundus photography?

Fundus photography is the process of taking serial photographs of the interior of your eye through the pupil. A fundus camera is a specialized low-power microscope attached to a camera used to examine structures such as the optic disc, retina, and lens.

What happens during fundus photography?

Before the procedure, your ophthalmologist may administer an eye drop to increase the size of the pupil. This allows your doctor to examine the interior surface of your eye much more properly.

During the procedure,

  • Your doctor will instruct you to sit in front of the fundus camera with your chin on a chin rest (an attachment) and your forehead against the bar.
  • Your doctor will focus and align the fundus camera on the pupil (the black center of your eye).
  • As soon as the doctor presses the shutter release, flash fires that create a photograph of the interior surface of your eye.

What are the benefits of fundus photography?

The benefits include:

  • It is a non-invasive procedure and only takes a minute or two.
  • It is easier to visualize the details of the retina (the interior surface of the eye) in stereoscopic fundus photographs rather than examining your eye directly.
  • It provides a bird’s eye view of entire layers on the retina (the interior surface of the eye) and allows your doctor to provide the most accurate diagnosis.
  • Many times, certain internal eye landmarks are more visible in fundus photography than other eye examinations, for example, fluorescein angiography (an eye examination in which a fluorescent dye is injected inside your eye).
  • Serial photographs of the internal structure of your eye may allow your doctor to study the delicate changes in the eye nerve, and they can recommend the appropriate therapy to you.
  • It allows early and accurate diagnosis, especially changes in the eye of patients with diabetes and blood pressure, which are essential for timely treatment and improvement in the patient’s outcome.
  • You get pictures of the current appearance of the retina (the interior surface of your eye) that is more worthy sometimes than the physician’s notes.

What are the risks of fundus photography?

Fundus photography is not an invasive procedure, and it only takes a minute or two. It may not be able to detect the changes in the peripheral retina. Other than that, there is little to no risk. You might not be able to see clearly for some time because your pupils were dilated during the examination with eye drops. However, the images obtained can help to detect your eye diseases in the early stages so that the preventive treatment can be started early. This benefit can outweigh apparent risks. It also provides your ophthalmologist with more information about the progression of your eye illness and allows your doctor to plan further treatment.

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