Fluorescein Angiography

Flourescein angiogram showing blood vessels, macula, and optic nerve.

Fluorescein angiography is an eye test. It is done to look at the back of your eye, including:

  • The blood vessels in your eye

  • The layer of tissue at the back of your eye (the retina)

  • The center of your retina (the macula)

  • The optic nerve

This test can diagnose diseases found in these areas. It can also diagnose other conditions that affect these areas. To do this test, a dye called fluorescein is injected into your arm. The dye goes into your bloodstream and up into the blood vessels in your eyes. A special camera is then used to take images (angiograms) of your eyes.

Getting ready for your test

Tell your healthcare provider if you:

  • Are pregnant or think you may be pregnant

  • Are breastfeeding

  • Have a history of severe allergic reactions, including to X-ray dye or other medicines

  • Have kidney problems

Tell your provider about any medicines you are taking. You may need to stop taking all or some of these before the test. This includes:

  • All prescription medicines

  • Over-the-counter medicines such as aspirin or ibuprofen

  • Street drugs

  • Herbs, vitamins, and other supplements

You should arrange for an adult family member or friend to drive you home after your test. Your vision will be blurry for up to 12 hours.

Follow any other instructions from your healthcare provider.

During your test

Here is what to expect:

  • You are given eye drops to enlarge (dilate) your pupils.

  • You then sit in front of a special camera. You place your chin on the chin rest and look into the camera.

  • Images are taken of your eyes, one eye at a time.

  • Fluorescein dye is then injected into your arm. The lights in the room are turned off. You may have mild nausea. You may have a warm feeling in your arm or upper body. Tell your healthcare provider if your skin feels itchy or if you are having trouble breathing. If so, you could be having an allergic reaction to the dye.

  • More pictures of your eyes are taken over about 15 minutes. The camera shines a bright light into your eyes. Try to keep your head still and your eyes open.

  • When enough images have been taken, the test is over.

After your test

Your vision will be blurry for up to 4 to 12 hours. This is because of your dilated pupils. Your eye will be more sensitive to light for up to 12 hours. You may want to wear sunglasses during this time. Do not drive if your vision is very blurry. You may also find it difficult to read. Your skin may look yellow for a few hours. This is from the dye. Your urine will be bright yellow or orange for 24 to 48 hours.


Risks and possible complications

All procedures have some risks. Possible risks of fluorescein angiography include:

  • Upset stomach (nausea) and vomiting

  • Leaking dye around the injection site that causes pain and swelling

  • Metallic taste in your mouth

  • Infection at injection site

  • Allergic reaction to the dye

  • Dry mouth or too much saliva

  • Faster heart rate

  • Sweating

  • Lower back pain