How Is The Retina Examined

picture of retina using iCare technology

Regular eye exams can reduce eye strain by ensuring you have the right prescription and you check for conditions and diseases that can harm your vision long-term. The sooner you catch some of these eye conditions, the easier it will be for professionals to limit the damage they cause or slow down a degenerative process, so you see better for longer in your life.

Retina examinations are a key aspect of monitoring and maintaining your overall eye health. The retina is a pathway into the eye that allows your doctor to evaluate the health of the following areas of the eye:

  • Optic nerve
  • Retina
  • Blood vessels

According to research from VSP Vision Care, 9 out of 10 people see regular eye exams as an important part of their health.

Retina examination process

Examining your retina and the full health of your eyes is a four-step process for your eye doctor. Here’s a look at what you can expect during an eye exam and what your doctor is looking for in each step of the process.

  1. Dilating the eyes: your doctor will use eye drops to dilate your eyes. This causes the pupil to expand, allowing more light into your eye. With the pupil expanded, your doctor can now see more clearly inside the eye to the back.
  2. Tonometry test:  this is also sometimes called the puff test. Using a tonometry test, the doctor can measure your eye’s pressure to evaluate whether or not you have glaucoma. 
  3. Vision field test: next, your doctor will measure the scope of your vision, including the center of your vision and your peripherals. You’ll cover one eye at a time while your doctor moves an object in various lines of sight to learn if you’re able to see the movement while looking straight ahead.
  4. Vision acuity test: now you’re ready for the final part of your eye exam and the part that most people are familiar with. Your doctor will ask you to look at a chart and read a series of numbers and letters to evaluate your vision and your need for prescription lenses. Through a series of tests, your doctor finds your prescription to provide less eye strain and better vision. 

What eye conditions can a retina examine diagnose?

Eye conditions can begin before you ever experience a disruption to vision or feel pain in your eyes. That’s why your doctor will highly recommend an annual eye exam to check for these conditions before they cause serious damage, pain and vision issues. 

A retina exam can help catch and diagnose the following conditions:

  • Stroke risk
  • Hypertension
  • Glaucoma
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Ocular melanomas
  • Detached retina
  • Diabetes
  • Macular degeneration
  • Heart disease

What happens if my doctor sees something concerning during an eye exam?

If your doctor believes you might have an eye condition, they might recommend retina imaging. This more in-depth imaging of the eye is generally not conducted during regular eye exams. With retinal imaging, the doctor can see a wider view of your retina to evaluate your eye health.

Generally, individuals who have diabetes, macular degeneration or glaucoma get this more in-depth retinal imaging. 

For retinal imaging, your doctor will dilate your eyes with special drops. Then, you'll place your chin and forehead in supports and open your eyes as wide as you can while looking straight ahead. A laser will scan your eyes and upload the images to your doctor's computer.

When a doctor suspects wet macular degeneration, they might also complete a fluorescein angiogram. During this process, your doctor uses an IV in a vein in your arm to inject a dye, which will make its way to your eye. The dye highlights your veins for easier imaging.

Avoiding pupil dilation with iCare technology

Until recently, pupil dilation was a necessary evil. No one enjoys having it done and it can throw off your vision for a few hours, making it challenging to schedule your eye exam during the workday. 

Look for a doctor who has iCare tonometry technology in their office. Using these modern devices, doctors no longer need to dilate their patient’s eyes or do the dreaded puff test. 

These easy-to-use devices make eye exams more comfortable for patients and simpler and easier to schedule thanks to avoiding dilation. Plus, they’re just as good at detecting eye conditions so you can rest easy knowing you’re receiving the best care and prevention possible. 

Ask your doctor about whether or not they have this modern technology in their office to provide an improved patient experience.

Providers can contact us or find a rep in their area to learn more about conducting retina exams without dilation.

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