An eye angiogram uses fluorescein dye and a camera to take pictures and evaluate the blood flow through the vessels in the back of the eye (retina).
See a picture of the structures of the eye.
During an eye angiogram, the dye is injected into a vein in your arm. Once injected, it takes about 10 to 15 seconds to circulate through your body. As the dye enters the blood vessels in your eyes, a series of photos are taken to chart the dye's progress. More pictures are taken after most of the dye has passed through your eyes to see if any of it has leaked out of the blood vessels. Any dye that leaks out of the blood vessels will colour the tissues and fluid in the eye. Filters in the camera allow the areas coloured by the dye to show up in the photos.
Unlike other angiogram procedures, an eye angiogram is not an X-ray procedure, so you are not exposed to any radiation.
An eye angiogram is done to:
If you wear contact lenses, remove them before the test. After the test, do not put soft contact lenses back in your eyes for at least 4 hours because the contacts may become stained from the dye used for the test.
Before the test, tell your doctor if you:
Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results may mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information form (What is a PDF document?).
After the test:
An eye angiogram is done in a hospital or doctor's office by an ophthalmologist.
Before the test, the doctor uses drops to widen, or dilate, your pupils. You will be seated in a chair facing the camera. You should loosen or remove any restrictive clothing around your neck. You will be asked to place your chin on a chin rest and your forehead against a bar to stabilize your head. Keep your teeth closed, open your eyes as widely as you can, and stare straight ahead while breathing and blinking normally. A few photographs will be taken.
An IV needle is then placed in a vein in your arm and the dye is injected. Once injected, it takes about 10 to 15 seconds for the dye to be visible in the blood vessels in your eyes.
As the dye enters the eyes, the doctor takes a rapid series of photos for a few minutes. The photos show the dye's progress through the blood vessels in your eyes. The dye makes the blood vessels show up clearly in the photos. More photos are taken after most of the dye has passed through the eyes to see whether any of the blood vessels are leaking the dye. If dye leaks out of a blood vessel, it will colour the surrounding tissue and fluid in the eye.
The test usually takes about 30 minutes, unless additional photos are needed. If more photos are needed, you will rest for 20 minutes before 5 to 10 more photos are taken. Photos can be taken up to 1 hour after an injection.
When fluorescein dye is injected into your arm, you may notice a metallic taste in your mouth, mild nausea, and a brief sensation of warmth.
After the test, your skin, the whites of your eyes, and your urine may be bright yellow or orange, but these effects wear off in 24 to 48 hours.
Because of the dilating eyedrops, your vision may be blurred, and your eyes may be sensitive to light for up to 12 hours. Avoid bright light and sunshine. Wear dark glasses when you go outside.
While the fluorescein dye is injected, you may become nauseated and feel flushed. These symptoms pass quickly.
Some people are allergic to the dye. In rare cases, a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) may develop, and emergency treatment may be needed. Tell your doctor if you feel light-headed, need to vomit, or have itching and hives after the dye is injected.
Dye that leaks out of the vein around the injection site may cause pain and may injure the skin.
The dye may pose a risk to a fetus. If you are pregnant, talk to your doctor about these risks.
This test takes about 30 minutes. Your doctor can usually review the results soon after.
Many conditions can change eye angiogram results. Your doctor will discuss any significant abnormal results with you in relation to your symptoms and past health.
Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:
Other Works Consulted
- Chernecky CC, Berger BJ (2008). Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, 5th ed. St. Louis: Saunders.
- Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine|
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Christopher J. Rudnisky, MD, MPH, FRCSC - Ophthalmology|
|Last Revised||July 20, 2011|
Last Revised: April 20, 2012
This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.