Skip to Content
Home > Wellness > Health Library > Ophthalmoscopy
Ophthalmoscopy (also called fundoscopy) is a test that lets a doctor see inside the back of the eye, which is called the fundus. The doctor can also see other structures in the eye. He or she uses a
magnifying tool called an ophthalmoscope and a light source to see inside the eye. The test is done as part
of an eye exam. It may also be done as part of a routine physical exam.
The fundus has a lining of nerve cells called the
retina. The retina detects images seen by the clear, outer
covering of the eye, called the cornea. The
fundus also contains blood vessels and the
There are two types of ophthalmoscopy.
Ophthalmoscopy is done to:
You do not need to do anything special to prepare for this test.
Your doctor may use eyedrops to widen (dilate)
your pupils. This makes it easier to see the back of the eye. The eyedrops take
about 15 to 20 minutes to fully dilate the pupil. Your doctor may also use
eyedrops to numb the surface of your eyes. Tell your doctor if:
You may have trouble focusing your eyes for several hours
after the test. You may want to have someone drive you home after
the test. You also will need to wear sunglasses when you go outside or into a
brightly lit room.
Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns about the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out
medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).
This type of exam can be
done with or without eyedrops.
This exam takes a few minutes.
This type of eye exam
gives a more complete view of the retina than direct ophthalmoscopy. The exam is
usually done by an
ophthalmoscopy, you may hear a clicking sound as the tool is adjusted to
focus on different structures in the eye. The light is sometimes very strong,
so you may see spots for a short time after the exam. Some people report
seeing light spots or branching images. These are really just the outlines of the
blood vessels of the retina.
ophthalmoscopy, the light is much stronger. It may be slightly painful. Pressure applied to your eyeball with the blunt tool may also hurt a little. After-images are common with this test. If the test is
painful, let the doctor know.
Dilating drops may
make your eyes sting and cause a medicine taste in your mouth. You will have
trouble focusing your eyes for up to 12 hours. Your distance vision usually is not affected as much as your near
vision. Your eyes may be very sensitive to light. Do not drive for
several hours after your eyes have been dilated. Wearing sunglasses may make
you feel better until the drops wear off. To learn more, see the topic Dilated Eye Exam.
In some people, the dilating or numbing
eyedrops can cause:
Call your doctor right away if you have severe and sudden
eye pain, vision problems such as halos that appear around lights, or loss of vision
after the exam.
Ophthalmoscopy is a test that lets a
doctor see inside the back of the eye, which is called the fundus. He or she can also see other structures in the eye. The doctor uses a
magnifying tool called an ophthalmoscope and a light source to see inside the eye.
You may not be able to
have the test, or the results may not be helpful, if:
Other Works Consulted
Chang DF (2011). Ophthalmologic examinations. In P Riordan-Eva, ET Cunningham, eds., Vaughan and Asbury's General Ophthalmology, 18th ed., pp. 27–57. New York: McGraw-Hill.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerChristopher J. Rudnisky, MD, MPH, FRCSC - Ophthalmology
Current as ofMay 23, 2016
Current as of:
May 23, 2016
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Christopher J. Rudnisky, MD, MPH, FRCSC - Ophthalmology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2016 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
I Want To...
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.