What to Know Before your Digital Retinal Imaging Exam

What to Know Before your Digital Retinal Imaging

There are many different parts of the eye that work together to create vision. The cornea, the dome-shaped surface covering the eye, bends incoming light. The colored part of the eye or the iris regulates the size of the pupil to control the amount of light that enters the eye. Behind the iris is a lens that further focuses the light onto the retina, the delicate tissue that lines the back of our eyes. These components work together to form images that are then interpreted by our brain. Without any of these elements, our vision can suffer. Attending regularly scheduled appointments with your optometrist can benefit the health of your vision. More importantly, assuring that you undergo a comprehensive eye exam aided by a retinal imaging, can protect your vision for the future.


What is a Retinal Exam?

The retina is a delicate tissue that lines the back of our eyes. Light passes first through the cornea, then the pupil, and lastly the lens, to form an image on the retina, which is interpreted by our brain.

A comprehensive eye exam will include a health evaluation of the retina or a retinal exam.  There are several methods for your eye doctor to examine the retina. The most desirable method used today during a routine eye examination is arguably digital retinal imaging, where a picture of your retina and is taken with a sophisticated instrument. This picture can be immediately viewed by your optometrist to assess the condition of your eyes. It provides a detailed view of the retina or the back of the eye that can be further analyzed and stored for future comparison for any subtle changes.

For the procedure, the doctor’s assistant will ask you to rest your chin and forehead on a support and look straight into the instrument, one eye at a time, where the light will briefly shine into your eye. There is no pain whatsoever, the process is quick and easy.


Why do a Retinal Screening?

With digital retinal imaging, your optometrist can view up to 80% of your retina. This procedure often does not require eye drops to dilate your eyes except when more in-depth imaging is required. Digital retinal imaging also has a host of other benefits as compared to the typical eye exams. It can help your optometrist in detecting vision-threatening eye disease before you notice any kind of change in your vision.


Benefits of Retinal Imaging

Digital retinal imaging comes with a variety of benefits. Here are just a few that we outlined:

1) The Process is Quick: Since this procedure involves only taking the picture of your retina through the instrument, the process takes just a few seconds.

2) Painless: The entire process is painless and non-invasive. There is no discomfort aside from a bright light.

3) Comfortability Before & After: Digital retinal imaging can be performed without eye dilation, whereas medicated eye drops enlarge the pupils for hours and potentially interfere with vision. However, this procedure does not replace the role of eye dilation.  Rather, undilated digital retinal imaging can reduce the frequency and likelihood of eye dilation.  This makes the process convenient and comfortable.

4) File the Scans: The doctor’s practice saves the scans for future comparison. Your physician can study the scans instead of physically testing you. The results can be used to compare with last year’s scans to look for any changes within the year.

5) Detect Eye Diseases: Retinal imaging can help your doctor better detect certain eye problems like macular degeneration, glaucoma, and even other problems like hypertension, diabetes, stroke risk and heart diseases as retinal imaging allow for a close look at the arteries, veins and even nerves of the eye and surrounding structures.

In selecting your optometrist, make sure they provide digital retinal imaging as part of their examination!

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