Opthalmoscopy is an examination of the back of the eye (fundus). This allows the ophthalmologist to examine the retina, the optic disc, the optic nerve and the network of tiny capillaries that supply the eye with blood, and to identify any defects.
The fundus can provide useful information about the overall state of health. Changes in blood vessels can be an indication of the seriousness of high blood pressure. Early signs of disturbances in blood circulation in the brains can be seen in the fundus. Particles of cholesterol containing material or crystalline plaques can be an indication of atherosclerosis. Changes in blood vessels in the eye can also suggest complications of diabetes. Additionally, opthalmoscopy may provide indications for eye diseases, such as glaucoma.
The fundus is the only place in the body where veins and arteries can be viewed directly, without having to operate.
The patient usually receives one or two eye drops into the eye to widen the pupil. Then the light in the room is dimmed and the examination is started. While the patient stares to a point in the distance, the doctor shines light from the opthalmoscope into each eye and looks through the widened pupil to the fundus.
This is a painless procedure. However, if the eyes are instilled, they may subsequently be sensitive to light for several hours, because the pupils are widened.