Why Retinal Photos?

Providing crystal clear vision to Sacramento, Roseville, & nearby areas of California

Enlarge Text: A+A-

Why Retinal Photos? Why do we encourage patients to consider retinal photos during their eye exam at Griffin & Reed Eye Care? That is a very good question since there is an additional fee if your insurance doesn’t cover the service. Why is it important and why is it truly in your best interest to consider having them taken?  Below we will cover the basics to help you make an informed decision. First of all, what is the retina? The retina is a cellophane-like layer in the back of the eye composed of rods and cones. It is responsible for sending light images to the brain for processing what we experience as vision. The health and function of our retinas are crucial for clear vision. There are many types of cancers, inflammations and other degenerations that can damage the retina and reduce visual acuity. Now that you know how important your retinal health is, why should you have a photo taken of it and have us save it with your medical information? Many liken it to having dental images taken.  Dentists take images of our teeth to document their appearance and health as a baseline. At later exams, previous images can be referenced to determine dental health that may not be apparent on the surface. With only two eyes, as opposed to twenty-eight teeth, we all want to maintain our sight as long as possible. Retinal photos provide our doctors with a valuable tool to evaluate your ocular health at the time of your examination. The image becomes part of your permanent file and will be used as a baseline for future visits. You may be wondering if our doctors see the same thing in a retinal picture as when your eyes are dilated. In short, no.  Dr. Seydel compares it to looking around a large backyard at night with a small flashlight (dilation) versus using powerful floodlights (retinal photos) that illuminate the entire yard all at once. Which do you think would offer a better view of the backyard? You are correct, floodlights. The same principle applies to your eye exam. In addition to reviewing the image with your doctor and better understanding your eye health, the digital record that is created for comparison during subsequent appointments makes it easier to diagnose any changes. What are some specific medical benefits we’ve noticed at Griffin & Reed Eye Care? Optic nerve cupping in glaucoma suspects and glaucoma patients is better documented with photos than with only an exam. The degree of macular degeneration and pigment change in the eye are more accurately graded and compared with photos. Epiretinal membranes are more easily seen and the level of traction is more easily assessed. Some other conditions are easier to see with retinal photos. For example, Choroidal Nevi (moles in the back of the eye) are sometimes much more apparent on photos. What if your eyes seem healthy?  We hope they are. However, it may surprise you to know that many eye diseases are painless and without symptoms initially. It is important to catch conditions early and retinal photos can help. Should you wish to have retinal photos taken at your next visit, please notify a member of our staff upon checking in and we will be happy to assist you. We hope this information has been helpful and invite you to discuss your specific situation with your doctor if you still have questions. We are here to help and thank you for trusting Griffin & Reed Eye Care.