Retinal Imaging: A Detailed Overview

You may have heard the words “retinal imaging” or “retinal scan” before, but what exactly is it? Chances are if you have been in for an eye exam in the past, you may have had this type of non-invasive testing done without even realizing it. Retinal imaging allows for the detection and intervention of some serious underlying eye conditions.

Having an eye doctor regularly examine your retinas, either digitally or during a comprehensive eye exam, ensure that any possible retinal conditions are diagnosed and treated as early as possible. If you are booked in for a retinal scan by your optometrist, here is everything you need to know about what it is and what to expect before, during, and after.

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Getting A Retinal Scan: What To Expect

Retinal imaging is a quick and painless type of eye exam where your optometrist takes a picture of the back of your eye with a tool called an ophthalmoscope. After the picture is taken, they will complete an image analysis of your retina, optic disk, and blood vessels in order to screen for certain diseases.

Getting a retinal scan is quick, simple, and effective. Here is what you can expect during the exam:

  1. Sometimes, you will get eye drops to dilate your pupils, though there is a new type of retinal imaging that many optometrists offer that does not call for pupil dilation. Be sure to ask your eye care provider which type you will be receiving.
  2. Place your chin and forehead on a stand to support your head and keep it steady.
  3. Stare straight forward while a laser painlessly scans your eyes.

After the test is complete, your optometrist will upload the images to a computer to thoroughly analyze them. If you have received the drops to dilate your pupils, you may find that your vision is blurry for a few hours. You should have no side effects.

Getting retinal imaging done will allow for accurate and precise screening of your eyes. As with any health complication, early intervention is key, and a retinal scan is an important part of protecting your ocular health.

Retinal Imaging Early Detection

There are many different serious eye conditions that routine retinal imaging can detect, such as:

  • Glaucoma: This eye disease can cause vision loss by damaging your optic nerve.
  • Diabetic retinopathy: This is a complication due to uncontrolled diabetes, which can cause vision loss over time. The vision loss stems from damage to the blood vessels in the retina.
  • Macular degeneration: Also known as AMD, this is caused by the central part of your retina deteriorating with age. There are two types of macular degeneration: wet and dry. Wet macular degeneration is caused by abnormal blood vessels growing under the retina and causing vision loss. Dry macular degeneration is the more common of the two versions and occurs when the blood vessels under the retina become thin and brittle.
  • Retinal Toxicity: The drug hydroxychloroquine is used to manage arthritic symptoms and can cause damage to your retina. Having your eye doctor complete a scan and image analysis will help to keep watch for this unfortunate side effect.
  • Trauma: Using imaging can help detect trauma to the eye, such as retinal detachment or tears.

There are different types of retinal exams to choose from, and some are better at detecting certain diseases and conditions than others. Your trusted Calgary optometrist at Specs in the City will decide which ones to perform, depending on your particular symptoms, risk factors, and projected outcomes.

Retinal Imaging and Analysis for Healthy Eyes

Other types of retinal scans include ocular ultrasounds, fundus photographs, and fluorescein angiography. These exams can be used to acquire different information about the retina and other tissues inside the eye, to compare the progression of an eye disorder over time, and to monitor the effects of diabetes, hypertension, and macular degeneration on the retina.

These scans and their subsequent image analysis are priceless for early detection and treatment of many debilitating eye conditions. Retinal imaging should be an important part of your eye exams so that our team can get a complete picture of your eye health. Reach out to the experienced team at Specs in the City to book for a retinal eye exam today.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is retinal screening necessary?

A retinal exam does not replace but is often added onto, your routine eye examination. Most often, it is part of a regular eye examination. A retinal exam can also be completed if there is trauma or a symptom your doctor is concerned about. If you have any cause for concern, contact our team at Specs in the City SE Calgary for an urgent retinal scan and image analysis.

Why get a retinal scan?

A retinal imaging test scans the back of your eye to look for potential problems or diseases. Retinal scans can also be useful for examining head injuries or brain tumours.

Are there any risks with retinal imaging?

There are little to no risks involved with undergoing retinal imaging. You may experience some mild discomfort from having to keep your eyes open and still for the laser scan. You may also experience temporary blurriness if you receive the pupil dilation drops.

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