Procedure, Tips, Risks & Cost of Indirect Ophthalmoscopy

Submitted by Nic on February 5, 2013

Indirect opthalmoscopy is a medical and diagnostic procedure in which a medical device known as ophthalmoscope is used to examine the back of the eyes. Indirect opthalmoscopy can help the doctor examine the fundus and take a closer look at the choroid, retina, optic disc, and the blood vessels at the back of the eyes. Indirect ophthalmoscopy is closely related to direct opthlamoscopy, which is a part of a routine eye examination. However, an indirect ophthalmoscopy procedure is not part of a routine examination. It is a much more complicated procedure that needs much more training and skill. It also provides more detailed information of the fundus as compared to direct ophthalmoscopy. It can also give a detailed description of the health of the eyes.


The indirect ophthalmoscope contains an adjustable lens and light source. The doctor or technician will make you lie down in a semi-reclined position. Your eye will be held open while a bright light is shone down into the eye. The doctor or technician then places the lens close to the eyes so that they can see the back of the eye more closely.

Eye drops may be poured in the eyes to dilate the retina so that the doctor can take a closer and detailed look at the retina. To get a better view of the fundus, the doctor may apply some light pressure on the eye using a sterile blunt probe. While the doctor looks at the eye, the patient is asked to look around in various directions. The doctor usually uses the lens to check the vitreous humor in the back of the eye. As the patient moves the eyes and changes the focal point, the doctor is able to view the eye from all the different directions.


There are two main types of indirect ophthalmoscopy: binocular and monocular types. The procedure of examination is the same in both these types. The only difference is in the lens used for making the examination. In the binocular type of indirect optholmoscopy, a binocular lens is used as opposed to a monocular lens used in a monocular type of indirect optholmoscopy.

Tips for Indirect Ophthalmoscopy

Indirect ophthalmoscopy is a noninvasive procedure, but before the procedure can be performed, the doctor pours eye drops to dilate the pupils and get a better look at the fundus. The eye drops may make it difficult for you to see, so it is best to go with someone for the test. You can also use tinted glasses or sunglasses to shield your eyes from bright lights and the sun; this can help decrease your discomfort manifold.


Since indirect ophthalmoscopy is a noninvasive procedure, there are minimal risks involved in this test. However, the use of the dilating eye drops may cause some slight discomfort to the eyes, and may even trigger a glaucoma attack. Though these risks and complications are very rare, they are possible and may happen during the course of the examination.


Since indirect ophthalmoscopy is a very widely used procedure, the cost is not very high. In addition, ophthalmoscopy is performed as an outpatient procedure and is noninvasive. The cost is therefore similar to any routine eye examination performed in a doctor's clinic or a technician's office.

Side Effects

The side effects of the procedure are related to the use of eye drops for dilating the pupils. You may have some slight discomfort and sensitivity in the eyes due to the use of these eye drops. You may also have a slightly unusual taste in your mouth due to the use of the eye drops.

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