Is a laser retina scan necessary? My eye care provider offers the test, but I'm not sure if I need it.
Answer From Alaina L. Softing Hataye, O.D.
For most people, a laser retina scan isn't required. However it does provide another tool for assessing retina and eye health, which can be helpful during technically difficult examinations. If you choose to have a laser retina scan, make sure it's a complement to — not a substitute for — a traditional eye exam with dilation.
During a traditional eye exam, an eye doctor dilates your eyes with special eyedrops and then checks your retinas for abnormalities using tools such as a slit lamp with magnifying lenses or a lighted magnifying instrument (binocular indirect ophthalmoscope). A traditional exam with dilation is especially important if you're at high risk of retinal conditions.
During a laser retina scan, such as Optomap, your eyes might or might not be dilated. A low-powered laser scans your eyes and then produces digital images of your retinas. The images can be studied to check for abnormalities and saved in your medical record to compare the condition of your retinas from year to year.
Although laser retina scans can detect some retinal abnormalities, the scans have limitations. For example, laser retina scans might not detect problems on the outside edges of the retinas, where serious problems can occur. You might also consider what the procedure costs and whether it's covered by your medical insurance.
Alaina L. Softing Hataye, O.D.
Nov. 12, 2019
Get the latest health information from Mayo Clinic’s experts.
Sign up for free, and stay up to date on research advancements, health tips and current health topics, like COVID-19, plus expertise on managing health.
ErrorEmail field is required
ErrorInclude a valid email address
To provide you with the most relevant and helpful information, and understand which
information is beneficial, we may combine your email and website usage information with
other information we have about you. If you are a Mayo Clinic patient, this could
include protected health information. If we combine this information with your protected
health information, we will treat all of that information as protected health
information and will only use or disclose that information as set forth in our notice of
privacy practices. You may opt-out of email communications at any time by clicking on
the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.
Thank you for subscribing
Our Housecall e-newsletter will keep you up-to-date on the latest health information.
Sorry something went wrong with your subscription
Please, try again in a couple of minutes
See more Expert Answers
- Elliott DB. Evidence-based eye examinations. In: Clinical Procedures in Primary Eye Care. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2014. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Aug. 26, 2017.
- Kolrnberg DL, et al. Clinical utility of ultra-widefield imaging with the Optos Optomap compared with indirect ophthalmoscopy in the setting of non-traumatic rhegmatogenous retinal detachment. Seminars in Ophthalmology. 2016;31:505.
- Shoughy SS, et al. Update on wide- and ultra-widefield retinal imaging. Indian Journal of Ophthalmology. 2015;63:575.
- Comprehensive adult eye and vision examination. American Optometric Association. https://www.aoa.org/optometrists/tools-and-resources/clinical-care-publications/clinical-practice-guidelines. Accessed Aug. 26, 2017.
- Yanoff M, et al., eds. Principles of lasers. In: Ophthalmology. 4th ed. Edinburgh, U.K.: Mosby Elsevier; 2014. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Aug. 27, 2017.
- Softing Hataye, AL (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic. Oct. 31, 2019.