Why Does Your Eye Doctor Do Retinal Imaging?

Why Does Your Eye Doctor Do Retinal Imaging?

When you receive retinal imaging, your eye doctor is essentially taking high-quality photos of the back of your eye (your retina) to help better examine your eye health. Retinal imaging uses a specialized camera that takes cross-sectional pictures to create intricate and accurate 3D imaging of the eye. Although it is called “retinal” imaging, the photos show your optic nerve, optic disk, and blood vessels as well as your retina. These are all integral parts of your eye health, and viewing them during the eye exam as well as comparing images over several years to track any changes are essential for your eye doctor to accurately monitor your eye health.

An Eye Doctor Uses Retinal Imaging To Look For:

This is a collection of eye conditions that causes damage to the optic nerve, often through increased pressure within the eye. Retinal imaging gives eye doctors the ability to see the optic nerve and assess its health. Since glaucoma tends to develop without showing any symptoms, the only way to know if you have glaucoma before it starts to affect your vision is through visits to the eye doctor. If your eye doctor notices damage to the optic nerve through retinal imaging, they can start a glaucoma management plan to slow the progression of this condition. Retinal imaging is not the only way an eye doctor determines if a person has glaucoma; read How Eye Doctors Screen For Glaucoma to learn more.

Diabetic Eye Disease
People with diabetes can develop damage to the blood vessels in the eyes. When blood sugar is too high, it can cause the walls of the blood vessels in the eyes to thicken and can restrict blood flow, leading to damage to the eye. Retinal imaging gives a clear image of blood vessels in the eye so that eye doctors can monitor the health of these blood vessels and can look for any ruptures or other fluids in the eyes.

Hypertensive Retinopathy
Similar to diabetic eye disease, hypertensive retinopathy also causes the blood vessels to contract and limit blood flow. Instead of being caused by diabetes, hypertensive retinopathy is caused by high blood pressure. Retinal imaging is used to monitor the health of blood vessels in the eye as well as the optic nerve to ensure patients with high blood pressure are not developing hypertensive retinopathy.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Also called AMD, this eye condition is most likely to develop in people aged 50 and over. AMD causes a breakdown in the centre of the retina known as the macula. As the macula deteriorates, central vision becomes increasingly worse until it is lost altogether. AMD tends to develop either due to a buildup of fluid in the eye or because of the development of deposits of lipids and proteins (called drusen) under the retina. Retinal imaging can show excess fluid and drusen in the eyes to indicate the potential development of AMD. Learn more about AMD by reading AMD Awareness Month: AM I At Risk For Age-Related Macular Degeneration?


What Retinal Imaging Involves

When you receive retinal imaging from your eye doctor, you may need to have your pupils dilated so that retinal imaging is clear and has enough space for comprehensive photos. While pupil dilation is painless and will be completed using eye drops, it will cause blurry and sensitive vision for about 4 hours and may make driving difficult. It is recommended that you ask someone to drive you home from your eye exam. The retinal image itself will use a laser to view into your eye and take photos to create a 3D image. This process is completely non-invasive and will take approximately 5 minutes to complete. If your eye doctor sees any indication of the eye conditions listed above, they may perform more tests.

To learn more about the importance of retinal health, read Retinal Damage: Symptoms, Who Is At Risk, And How It Can Be Diagnosed And Treated.


Receive Retinal Imaging From A Calgary Eye Doctor

Eye exams are an important part of ocular health and retinal imaging is an invaluable tool to ensure your eye doctor can properly monitor your eye health. If you want to schedule an eye exam with retinal imaging, call the Calgary eye doctors at Specs in the City. Our highly trained and experienced staff will monitor your current eye health and will compare it to any previous retinal images in your file. Retinal imaging can be conducted during our adult eye exams, children's eye exams, and senior eye exams, so that everyone of every age can get the eye health service they need. To book an appointment with one of our Calgary eye doctors, contact Specs in the City at 1-403-252-2020 or fill out the online contact form.



Q: Is retinal imaging necessary?
A: While a retinal scan is not always needed, it is a good precaution to take, especially for people who are at risk of developing eye conditions. People who have a family history of glaucoma or AMD or people who have diabetes or high blood pressure are advised to receive retinal imaging. A retinal exam should 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.

Q: Are there any risks with retinal imaging?
A: 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 pupil dilation drops.

Q: Does Alberta Health Care cover eye exams?
A: The Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP) provides coverage for annual eye exams if you’re between the ages of 0-18, or over 65. The provincial plan can also be used in times of an emergency should you require an immediate appointment with an eye doctor. Find out more about eye emergencies here.


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