How Does a Fundus Camera Work?
A fundus camera is an electronic ophthalmic instrument used to allow your eye doctor a better view of the inside of your eye. (It can also be called a retinal camera.) Your doctor’s handheld ophthalmoscopes can only offer so much in magnification and field of vision – how much of your eye they can actually see. The fundus camera, with its powers of magnification and clear digital photos of your retina give your doctor a better view and a lasting image. This can allow him or her to look for and monitor any changes in your eyes’ health.
Fundus cameras work like digital microscopes, giving an up-close and personal view of the interior of your eyeballs. The magnification offered varies by camera model, as is the scope or width of the field of vision (how much of the eye can be seen.) The light passes thorugh your eye, bounces off the back wall, or fundus, and then is reflected back into the camera, which digitizes an image of the retina at the moment of reflection. Sometimes the blood vessels of the retina are marked through the use of a special dye beforehand, and often the patient’s pupil is dialted so as to allow the largest possible window for the camera to view through. Some fundus cameras are integral with, or attached to, the tonometer. This ophthalmic instrument registers the pressure of your inner eye. (This is that crazy thing that puffs the little poof of air into your eye and makes you jump and blink.)
The fundus camera is primarily used to check the health of the retina of the eye. This can diagnose and monitor such diseases as macular degeneration and glaucoma. The crystal clear digital photos taken by a fundus camera are more precise than the images given by handheld instruments, and more lasting. Without the ability to create such photos, the doctor working without a fundus camera must rely on his notes and his memory to recall just what state your inner eye was in during previous visits. For patients with degenerative diseases of the eye such as glaucoma, and with vision threatening health conditions like diabetes, a fundus camera becomes one of the many weapons in their doctor’s arsenal to preserve their sight.
So, the next time you go visit the optometrist or ophthalmologist, instead of dreading that little puff of air poofing into your face, think of all the wonderful things your doctor is seeing inside there and remember that it is the fundus camera that makes it possible!