Diagnostic Tests Performed by Your Eye Doctor

​​​​There are a number of tests used to diagnose diabetic retinopathy. Your eye doctor might want to conduct one or more of these tests in order to properly assess your vision and check the health of your eyes.

Diagnostic tests for diabetic retinopathy include:

  • Visual acuity test: The standard measurement of a person’s ability to see, using an eye chart.

  • Dilated eye exam: Drops are placed into the eye to widen (dilate) the pupils to allow a direct view of the inside of your eye, including the retina. A special magnifying lens is used to examine the retina and the optic nerve for signs of damage. This test may temporarily blur your vision for one to two hours, so you may want to bring a friend or family member with you to help you get home. You may also want to bring sunglasses to wear on the trip home as your eyes will be sensitive to the sunlight due to the drops.

  • Tonometry: A test that measures pressure inside the eye.

  • Optical coherence tomography (OCT): A diagnostic imaging device used in the detection of retinal disease.

  • Fundus photography: This test involves taking colour photographs of both the central and peripheral retina, which allows your eye doctor to document the extent and stage of your diabetic retinopathy. These images can be compared between visits to follow the progression and/or improvement of the condition.

  • Fluorescein angiogram: Your optometrist may refer you to an ophthalmologist for this test where a dye is injected into a vein and then circulated within the eye. Photographs are taken of any abnormal blood vessels.

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