Fluorescein angiography is a commonly used, office-based diagnostic test that helps the ophthalmologist evaluate retinal function. A sodium fluorescein dye is injected into a peripheral vein (usually on the patient’s arm) using a small needle. The dye then spreads through all vessels in the body, including those in the retina. A specialized camera is used to capture the flow of the dye through the retina. This allows ophthalmologists to visualize areas in the retina with poor perfusion (ischemia), the growth of new blood vessels (neovasuclaration), leakage from vessels and scarring. Fluorescein angiography is very useful in determining the extent and severity of diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, retinal venous occlusions, retinal arterial occlusions and hypertensive retinopathy.
Most patients have no difficulties in taking the test. Some patients however have mild nausea and vomiting associated with the injection of the sodium fluorescein dye. It is common to notice a yellow-appearance to the skin for several hours following the test and the patient’s urine will be bright yellow until all the dye has passed through the kidneys and excreted from the body.