What Is a Fluorescein Angiography?
A fluorescein angiography is a medical procedure in which a fluorescent dye is injected into the
bloodstream. The dye highlights the blood vessels in the back of the eye so they can be photographed.
This test is often used to manage eye disorders. Your doctor may order it to confirm a diagnosis,
determine an appropriate treatment, or monitor the condition of the vessels in the back of your eye.
What the Test Addresses
Your doctor may recommend a fluorescein angiography to determine if the blood vessels in the back
of your eye are getting adequate blood flow. It can also be used to help your doctor diagnose eye
disorders, such as macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy.
Macular degeneration occurs in the macula, which is the part of the eye that allows you to focus on fine
detail. Sometimes, the disorder worsens so slowly that you may not notice any change at all. In some
people, it causes vision to deteriorate rapidly and blindness in both eyes may occur.
Because the disease destroys your focused, central vision, it prevents you from:
*seeing objects clearly
Diabetic retinopathy is caused by long-term diabetes and results in permanent damage to the blood
vessels in the back of the eye, or the retina. The retina converts images and light that enter the eye
into signals, which are then transmitted to the brain through the optic nerve.
There are two types of this disorder:
* non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy, which occurs in the initial stages of the disease
* proliferative diabetic retinopathy, which develops later and is more severe
Your doctor may also order fluorescein angiography to determine if treatments for these eye disorders
Preparation for the Test
You’ll need to arrange for someone to pick you up and drive you home since your pupils will be dilated
for up to 12 hours after the test.
Be sure to tell your doctor before the test about any prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, and
herbal supplements you’re taking. You should also tell your doctor if you’re allergic to iodine.
If you wear contact lenses, you’ll need to take them out before the test.
How Is the Test Administered?
Your doctor will perform the test by inserting standard dilation eye drops into your eyes. These
make your pupils dilate. They’ll then ask you to rest your chin and forehead against the camera’s
supports so that your head remains still throughout the test.
Your doctor will then use the camera to take many pictures of your inner eye. Once your doctor has
completed the first batch of pictures, they’ll give you a small injection into a vein in your arm. This
injection contains a dye called fluorescein. Your doctor will then continue to take pictures as the
fluorescein moves through the blood vessels into your retina.
Understanding the Results
If your eye is healthy, the blood vessels will have normal shape and size. There will be no blockages
or leaks in the vessels.
Abnormal results will reveal a leak or blockage in the blood vessels. This may be due to:
*a circulatory problem
*high blood pressure
*enlarged capillaries in the retina
*swelling of the optic disc