Top of the page
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 examination. It may also be done as part of a routine physical examination.
The fundus has a lining of nerve cells called the retina. The retina detects images that pass through 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.
Your doctor uses a tool that is about the size of a small flashlight. It has many lenses that can magnify up to about 15 times.
Your doctor uses a small hand-held lens and either a slit lamp microscope or a light attached to a headband. This test gives the doctor a wider view of the inside of the eye. It allows a better view of the fundus, even if the lens is clouded by cataracts.
Ophthalmoscopy is done to:
This examination is usually done as part of a regular eye examination. Other eye tests that may be done include vision testing and testing for glaucoma.
In general, there's nothing you have to do before this test, unless your doctor tells you to.
Tell your doctor if you or anyone in your family has glaucoma. And tell your doctor if you are allergic to any type of eyedrops.
Before doing either type of test, your doctor may use eyedrops to widen (dilate) your pupils. This makes it easier to see the back of the eye. Your doctor may also use eyedrops to numb the surface of your eyes. It takes about 15 to 20 minutes to fully dilate the pupils.
This type of eye examination gives a more complete view of the retina than direct ophthalmoscopy. The examination is usually done by an ophthalmologist.
A direct or indirect ophthalmoscopy test takes a few minutes.
During this test, 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 examination. Some people report seeing light spots or branching images. These are really just the outlines of the blood vessels of the retina.
With this test, 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'll have trouble focusing your eyes for up to 12 hours. Your distance vision usually isn't affected as much as your near vision. Your eyes may be very sensitive to light.
In some people, the dilating or numbing eyedrops can cause:
Current as of: April 29, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Kathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Current as of: April 29, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2021 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.