Ophthalmic photography is a highly specialized form of medical imaging used for the study and treatment of disorders of the eye. Through the use of state-of-the-art equipment, doctors can document parts of the eye such as the cornea, iris and retina.
The retina is the “film” of the eye. Images passing through the clear structures of the cornea and lens are focused on the retina to give us our view of the world. Special instruments called fundus cameras, when used by skilled photographers, can document the condition of this miraculous anatomical structure.
When fundus photography is performed after the injection of a fluorescent dye into the bloodstream via a vein in the patient’s arm, the procedure is called Fluorescein Angiography. With special colored filters, only the dye is photographed as it travels through the vessels in the retina. These studies, performed by ophthalmic photographers and interpreted by ophthalmologists, are used in differentiating one retinal disease from another and in determining appropriate courses of treatment. These diagnostic tests can be done by using special film cameras or even with digital technology.
The slit lamp camera is a horizontally mounted microscope, coupled with special illumination devices used to photograph the cornea. This photo slitlamp produces high magnification views of disorders that would be impossible to observe with the naked eye. Technology now even allows for this to be done digitally.
Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) uses a general technique of superimposing, or “interfering” two or more light waves which creates an output wave that is different from the input waves. The OCT creates a cross-sectional view of the object being photographed. The OCT is a non-invasive test and very accurately documents abnormalities of the retina and optic nerve head.
Ocular photographic technology has changed drastically in the past several years. Ophthalmologists are now able to diagnose and treat ocular diseases much more quickly now than in the past, largely due to digital photography and other state-of-the-art equipment. Eye care and treatment of ocular diseases has certainly come a long way and continues to be ever-changing for the best.