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Digital Retinal Photography

As most people realise, the eye examination should be a part of every persons’ regular health checks’.  Apart from sight correction, regular examinations allow our optometrists to inspect your eyes for numerous conditions that affect general health as well as those that can affect your vision.  The inspection of the interior of the eye is carried out during a regular eye examination with a hand-held instrument called an ophthalmoscope.  It provides a highly magnified view of small areas of the retina. Abnormalities and small changes over time can be noted and compared with previous notes.

What is Digital Retinal Photography?
Digital Retinal photography adds a number of diagnostic benefits to traditional ophthalmoscopy. After reviewing and testing a number of systems we decided to settle on the most advanced system available from Zeiss.  Our new digital retinal photography system gives your optometrist a high definition view of a very much larger area of the retina and optic      
nerve head. This has a number of added benefits in that the image can be recalled and compared with future findings as a means of detecting slow-changing conditions much earlier. The image can be ‘zoomed’ for even closer inspection, and manipulated in various ways to show details that cannot be seen by using any other method. It also allows the optometrist to study the retina as a whole rather than in several smaller views.

Why is it recommended?
Since many conditions that affect the eye can only be detected by examining the retina, it makes sense to use the best method of inspection and comparison.  Our new equipment records in accurate detail the appearance of the internal structures of the eyes.  Because changes that happen in conditions like glaucoma or diabetic retinopathy occur very subtly, the abnormalities are difficult to detect without    
having something to compare the appearance against. This ability to store and recall such high quality images is a major step forward.  Although there are obviously differences, the closest analogy to this advancement would be the use of x-rays in dentistry, or MRI scanning in the modern hospital. Like these other diagnostic procedures, the real work is done after the image is captured.  All images are studied, analysed and interpreted by a qualified optometrist.

What is involved?
The process of capturing retinal images usually only takes a few minutes.  You will sit at the equipment and be asked to look at a target.  When the instrument is aligned there is a brief flash to illuminate the inside of your eye.  The procedure is   
then repeated for the other eye.  Sometimes more than one image may be required for each eye.

A few patients (those with small pupils and certain types of cataract) may need to have drops to dilate the pupils before the pictures are taken.  You will not be able to drive home if you have had the drops inserted.

How much does it cost, and how often should it be carried out?
Although recognised as one of the most effective diagnostic procedures, digital retinal photography is not funded by the National Health Service.  We charge a fee of £18 for this additional procedure, and although it is entirely optional, we advise that at least an initial baseline set of photographs is taken, with subsequent