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Ophthalmoscopy (also called fundoscopy) is a test that lets a doctor see inside the back of the eye, which is called the fundus. The doctor can also see other structures in the eye. He or she uses a magnifying tool called an ophthalmoscope and a light source to see inside the eye. The test is done as part of an eye exam. It may also be done as part of a routine physical exam.
The fundus has a lining of nerve cells called the retina. The retina detects images seen by the clear, outer covering of the eye, called the cornea. The fundus also contains blood vessels and the optic nerve.
There are two types of ophthalmoscopy.
Ophthalmoscopy is done to:
You do not need to do anything special to prepare for this test.
Your doctor may use eyedrops to widen (dilate) your pupils. This makes it easier to see the back of the eye. The eyedrops take about 15 to 20 minutes to fully dilate the pupil. Your doctor may also use eyedrops to numb the surface of your eyes. Tell your doctor if:
You may have trouble focusing your eyes for several hours after the test. You may want to have someone drive you home after the test. You also will need to wear sunglasses when you go outside or into a brightly lit room.
Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns about the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information form .
This type of exam can be done with or without eyedrops.
This exam takes a few minutes.
This type of eye exam gives a more complete view of the retina than direct ophthalmoscopy. The exam is usually done by an ophthalmologist.
During direct ophthalmoscopy, you may hear a clicking sound as the tool is adjusted to focus on different structures in the eye. The light is sometimes very strong, so you may see spots for a short time after the exam. Some people report seeing light spots or branching images. These are really just the outlines of the blood vessels of the retina.
With indirect ophthalmoscopy, the light is much stronger. It may be slightly painful. Pressure applied to your eyeball with the blunt tool may also hurt a little. After-images are common with this test. If the test is painful, let the doctor know.
Dilating drops may make your eyes sting and cause a medicine taste in your mouth. You will have trouble focusing your eyes for up to 12 hours. Your distance vision usually is not affected as much as your near vision. Your eyes may be very sensitive to light. Do not drive for several hours after your eyes have been dilated, unless your doctor says it's okay. Wearing sunglasses may make you feel better until the drops wear off. To learn more, see the topic Dilated Eye Exam.
In some people, the dilating or numbing eyedrops can cause:
Call your doctor right away if you have severe and sudden eye pain, vision problems such as halos that appear around lights, or loss of vision after the exam.
Ophthalmoscopy is a test that lets a doctor see inside the back of the eye, which is called the fundus. He or she can also see other structures in the eye. The doctor uses a magnifying tool called an ophthalmoscope and a light source to see inside the eye.
You may not be able to have the test, or the results may not be helpful, if:
Other Works Consulted
Chang DF (2011). Ophthalmologic examinations. In P Riordan-Eva, ET Cunningham, eds., Vaughan and Asbury's General Ophthalmology, 18th ed., pp. 27–57. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Current as of:
December 18, 2019
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Kathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Current as of: December 18, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
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