Fluorescein angiography is a medical procedure by eye doctors in which a fluorescent dye is injected into the bloodstream. The dye highlights the blood vessels in the back of the eye so they can be photographed. This eye test is often used to manage eye disorders. Your doctor may order it to confirm a diagnosis, determine an appropriate treatment, or monitor the condition of the vessels in the back of your eye.
What does the Test Address?
To determine whether or not the blood vessels in the back of your eyes are getting adequate blood flow, fluorescein angiography may be recommended. Eye disorders such as macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy are often caused by a lack of blood flow to the eyes.
Macular degeneration occurs in the macula – the part of the eye that allows you to focus on fine details. For some people, this disorder moves slowly being almost unnoticeable, while for others vision deteriorates rapidly which in return can cause blindness. Since the disease affects central vision, you will struggle to see clearly, drive, read, or watch television.
Caused by long-term diabetes, diabetic retinopathy results in permanent damage to the blood vessels in the back of the eye or the retina. The retina converts images and light that enter the eye into signals, which are then transmitted to the brain through the optic nerve.
The two types of diabetic retinopathy include:
- Non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy, which occurs in the initial stages of the disease
- Proliferative diabetic retinopathy, which develops later and is more severe
How do you prepare for the test?
Since your pupils will be dilated for up to 12 hours following the test, you will need to arrange for someone to drive you home. You will need to come prepared with a list of prescriptions, over the counter drugs, or herbal supplements you are currently taking. Also, please note if you are allergic to iodine. If you wear contact lenses, they will need to be removed prior to the test.
What happens during the test?
Your Vision Associates eye doctor will insert standard dilation eye drops into your eyes to dilate your pupils. You will then be asked to adjust your position to allow the eye doctor to have a clear view of the camera throughout the test. Using the camera, the doctor will take many pictures of your inner eye, and then give you a small injection of fluorescein in your arm. As the fluorescein moves through the blood vessels into your retina, the doctor will capture more pictures.
Understanding the Results
Follow the test, your doctor will identify whether or not you have normal or abnormal results. If your eyes appear to be healthy, the blood vessels will be of normal shape and size. There will be no appearance of blockage or leaks. On the contrary, abnormal findings include leaks or blockage. This may be due to a circulatory problem, cancer, diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, high blood pressure, a tumor, enlarged capillaries in the retina, or swelling of the optic disc.
To learn more about fluorescein angiography, or to schedule a procedure, please contact Vision Associates at 419-578-2020.