In fluorescein angiography, a special dye is injected into a patient’s bloodstream to highlight the vessels in the back of the eye to show any issues.
What is Angiography?
A common way for our Jacksonville, FL Southeastern Retina Specialists, Dr. John Sullivan and Dr. Shawn Agee, to diagnose problems of the retina is to use fluorescein angiography, also known as retinal photography. With this procedure, a special fluorescent dye is injected into a patient’s bloodstream. The dye will make its way to the blood vessels in the back of the eye, so your doctor can see how your retina (layer of light-sensitive tissue located in the back of the eye) is functioning. Pictures will be taken of the highlighted area to get detailed images for diagnostic purposes. The test can determine the presence of a range of eye issues, including retinal vein occlusion, diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, tumors, and more.
In other cases, ICG angiography can be performed to take a closer look at the choroid, which is a layer of connective tissues and blood vessels. It is located between the white part of the eye (sclera) and the retina in the back of the eye. Similar to fluorescein angiography, a special dye, Indocyanine Green (ICG), is used to fluoresce layers of the eye to make them clearer in photographs. For the best results, our office uses the Optos® California imaging device for our angiography tests.
What to Expect
With fluorescein angiography, your doctor will first dilate your pupils. Then, you will be instructed to rest your forehead against a support bar and to place your chin on a chin rest to remain still throughout the test. A special camera will be used to take photos of the structures inside of your eye. Then, the fluorescent dye, fluorescein, will be injected into a vein (usually the elbow) to enter your bloodstream. Photos will be taken again as the dye spreads out into the vessels in the back of the eye, highlighting them so more detailed images can be taken.
ICG is similar to fluorescein angiography and sometimes can complement the test. In this diagnostic test, the patient is injected with the Indocyanine Green dye through a vein, usually in the elbow. The dye will fluoresce in infrared light to highlight blood vessels. These infrared wavelengths are able to penetrate the deeper retinal layers, which can make them clearer to see when taking photos with an infrared camera.
After either test, you will need someone to drive you home since your vision can be blurry up to 12 hours afterwards. Some patients feel pain, discomfort, or throbbing in the injection site of the needle, but this tends to pass quickly. Once the actual dye is in the body, some patients may experience a warm sensation or mild nausea, but these symptoms also typically subside quickly. For a few days following the test, your urine maybe darker in color and in some cases, it will appear to be orange.
From the images taken of your eye, your doctor will be able to determine if there are any abnormalities or eye disorders present. If so, a treatment plan can be customized to treat any problem(s) for best results.
Get More Information
Fluorescein and ICG angiography are extremely useful tools in determining any problems with the retina or choroid. They can quickly show any problems that need immediate attention. To learn more about these tests, contact our office to schedule an appointment.