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Ophthalmoscopy: About This Test

Eyeball and optic nerve

What is it?

Ophthalmoscopy (say "awf-thul-MAW-skuh-pee") is a test that lets your doctor see the inside of the back of your eye. Your doctor looks at the eye using a magnifying scope (an ophthalmoscope) and a light source.

Why is this test done?

This test is usually done as part of a regular eye exam. The test is done to look for eye problems and diseases. It also can be used to find other problems, such as head injuries or brain tumours.

How is the test done?

Tell your doctor if you or someone in your family has glaucoma. And tell your doctor if you are allergic to any type of eyedrops.

Your doctor will shine a bright light in your eyes. Then the doctor will look at your eyes.

Before the test, your doctor may use eyedrops to widen (dilate) your pupils. This helps the doctor see the back of the eye. Your doctor may also use drops to numb your eyes. It takes about 15 to 20 minutes to fully dilate the pupils.

What happens after the test?

  • If your eyes were dilated, your vision may be blurry for several hours. Do not drive for several hours after your eyes have been dilated, unless your doctor tells you it is okay. You may want to have someone drive you home after the test.
  • You will probably be able to go home or back to your usual activities right away. But if your eyes were dilated, they will be sensitive. Protect them from the sun by wearing sunglasses.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to keep a list of the medicines you take. Ask your doctor when you can expect to have your test results.

Where can you learn more?

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