The Virginia Retina Center

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Patient Information

What to expect on your first visit

 
What is involved?
 

When you enter our office, the receptionist will ask you to fill out a brief medical form to record your medical and insurance information.

 
Pupil Dilation  
 
The clinical examination will begin by testing your vision at near and at distance. The eye pressure will be tested and pupils will be dilated. The ophthalmic technician will take a medical and ocular history while your pupils are dilating. After your eyes are fully dilated, the doctor will talk with you about your eye problem and other pertinent information. He will then carefully examine your eyes. Special tests may be necessary following the doctor's examination.
  • Fundus photographs , using a special camera to record the appearance of the retina.
  • Fluorescein angiogram , during which dye is injected into the arm to locate and photograph blood vessels in the back of the eye.
  • Ultrasound , which bounces sound waves off the back of the eye and converts them into an image on the screen similar to radar. The test results will be explained and the diagnosis and treatment recommendations, if any, will be discussed with you. Some special treatments can be given right in the office.
  • Laser treatment or photocoagulation is used to treat retinal breaks or seal abnormal blood vessels. This treatment is often used for patients with diabetes, macular degeneration and retinal tears.
  • Intravitreal Injections used for treating diseases such as Macular Degeneration or Diabetic retinopathy through the injection of a drug directly in the eye.
  • Cryotherapy , which freezes a small area on the outside of the eye and is often used to repair a tear in the retina.
Your physician has referred you for examination or treatment of a particular condition. Information on your evaluation, treatment, and tests will be sent to your referring physician so that he or she may continue to provide optimum care for you on an ongoing basis.
 
Tonometry
 
Fluorescein Angiogram (FA) & Retinal Photography
 

Fluorescein angiography (fluorescein - the type of dye that is used.)

Angiogram - a study of the blood vessels) is an extremely valuable test that provides information about the circulatory system and the condition of the back of the eye.  FAs are useful for evaluating many eye diseases that affect the retina.

The test is performed by injecting a special dye, called fluorescein, into a vein in the arm. In just seconds, the dye travels to the blood vessels inside the eye.  A camera equipped with special filters that highlight the dye is used to photograph the fluorescein as it circulates though the blood vessels in the back of the eye.  If there are circulation problems, swelling, leaking or abnormal blood vessels, the dye and its patterns will reveal these in the photographs.  Your Doctor can then make a determination as to the diagnosis, and possible treatment options for the patient.

What is Fluorescein Angiography?

  • This is a test which allows the blood vessels at the back of the eye to be photographed as a fluorescent dye is injected into the bloodstream via your hand or arm.
 
Slit lamp tonometry and examination

 

Why is the procedure necessary?
  • To help the doctor confirm a diagnosis.
  • To provide guidelines for treatment.
  • To keep a permanent record of the vessels at the back of the eye.
How is the test performed?
  • Your pupils will be dilated with eye drops.
  • An injection of yellow dye is given into a vein in your arm. A series of photographs is taken as the dye enters the vessels at the back of your eye.
Are there any side-effects?
  • During the injection you may feel warm or experience a hot flush. This only lasts seconds then disappears. Your skin will be pale yellow and your urine colored fluorescent orange. This is entirely normal and may take two days to wear off.
Can I eat or drink before the test?
  • Yes. It is advisable to eat a light meal before the test. If you have diabetes you must ensure you have had enough to eat.
Should I take my normal medication?
  • Yes, all your regular medication should be continued. You will be asked before the test what medication you are taking.
Should I inform you of my past medical history?
  • Yes, this is very important. Also inform us of any allergies that you may have. If you think that you may be pregnant, please inform the medical staff.
When will I get the results of the test?
  • You will hear from the Doctor right after your test is completed.  He/She will explain his/her findings.
Can I drive Home?
  • No. The drops and bright light from the camera will blur your vision for a short time. Please arrange for another adult to collect you from our clinic and escort you home.
Retinal Photography (Routine Photography, Without Angiography.)
  • For this your pupils will need to be dilated with eye drops.
  • Dilating your pupils stops you from the ability to read and lights become very bright, especially sunlight. Some people do drive, especially if they wait an hour or two after the drops are put in, so they wear off a little, but this is not ideal.
  • Very occasionally the drops last 3 days, but usually they last 1 hour with maximum effect, and are 80% better after 3 hours. Reading or close work may still be slightly difficult after this. Using sunglasses while your pupils are dilated is very helpful indeed.