Got retinal disease? Retina specialists’ unique imaging tools can help preserve vision
Posted: May 02, 2023 | Word Count: 717
Advances in early detection and treatment of retinal diseases made possible by retina specialists can preserve sight and virtually eliminate vision loss from conditions such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy and retinal detachment.
People who are at risk or experience symptoms of a retinal condition should visit a retina specialist’s office which is equipped with cutting-edge imaging technologies, allowing for earlier diagnosis, closer monitoring and breakthrough treatment approaches that can help save sight.
According to the American Society of Retina Specialists (ASRS), advanced imaging techniques and technologies a patient may encounter during a visit with a retina specialist include:
- Indirect ophthalmoscopy: A diagnostic technique used to examine the back of the eye, including the retina, optic nerve and blood vessels. During the exam, the retina specialist shines a bright light into the eye from a special head-mounted device. The retina specialist then uses another lens, called a handheld lens, to magnify the image of the back of the eye and examine it in detail.
- Fundus photography: Fundus photography and ultra-widefield fundus photography use a specialized camera with a low-power microscope to capture a series of high-resolution images of the fundus, or back of the eye including the retina and macula, while a patient’s eyes are dilated. During this painless test, the patient is seated in front of a specialized camera and looks straight ahead while a bright light is shone into their eye. The camera then takes multiple images of the back of the eye, which are reviewed by the retina specialist for any abnormalities or signs of disease.
- Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT): A non-invasive imaging technique that uses waves of light to capture individual images of cross-sections of the retina giving retina specialists a three-dimensional look at its structures and the ability to measure the retina’s thickness. During the test, the patient is seated in front of a machine that looks like a camera and asked to rest their chin on a support to keep their head still. The patient's eyes are then scanned with a special light, which captures images of the back of the eye. The results are available immediately which allows for prompt diagnosis and treatment.
- Optical Coherence Tomography Angiography (OCT-A): A novel, non-invasive technique, OCT-A allows a close, three-dimensional look at the blood vessels and blood flow inside the retina and surrounding tissues. The resulting images may be in color or black and white. During the procedure, the patient is seated in front of a machine that looks like a camera and asked to rest their chin on a support to keep their head still. The patient's eyes are then scanned with a special light, which captures images of the back of the eye, including blood vessels and blood flow.
- Fluorescein Angiography/Indocyanine Angiography (FA/ICG): A diagnostic technique that uses a dye injected into the bloodstream and a highly specialized camera to record blood flow within the retina and the rest of the eye. After a patient’s eyes are dilated, a small amount of dye is injected in the arm or hand. The patient is positioned in front of a specialized camera and looks at a series of bright lights while a series of pictures are taken which shows the dye as it moves through the blood vessels in the retina.
- Ophthalmic ultrasound: Ophthalmic ultrasound or eye ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of the structures inside the eye. During the non-invasive test, a probe is placed on the eye or eyelid and the patient may be asked to move their eye in different directions. Ophthalmic ultrasound is useful in diagnosing and monitoring various eye conditions, including retinal detachment, vitreous hemorrhage, tumors and other abnormalities.
“Retina specialists have access to highly specialized imaging equipment right in their office, allowing patients to have all tests and imaging done to track the progress of their retinal condition in one location, eliminating the need to travel to a different medical office or clinic,” said Philip J. Ferrone, M.D., FASRS, president of the Foundation of the American Society of Retina Specialists. “Our goal is to reduce the burden on patients and their families and provide a one-stop shop for diagnosis, monitoring and treatment for everyone facing a retinal condition.”
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