What is a Fluorescein angiogram?
A Fluorescein Angiogram (FA) is a test to look for leakage or blockages in the blood vessels of the retina. This test has been in use for many years by eye doctors. More recently, with the development of new wide angle digital cameras and special laser systems, angiography of the retina has become more accurate and useful for patients with retina diseases.
Fluorescein Angiogram Procedures
It is done by injecting a special dye called fluorescein into the vein of your arm. FA is done to help retinal eye doctors treat AMD, diabetic retinopathy and retinal vein occlusion. This test is done in an eye clinic or hospital. A doctor will usually insert a plastic cannula into your vein and inject the dye. A trained technician will then take digital photographs of your retina with a special camera. This procedure will take 10 minutes in total and is completely painless.
Fluorescein Angiography Interpretation
A trained retinal specialist usually interprets the results of a FA and results can be obtained usually right away. The retinal specialist will then discuss the results with patient and decide of treatment for their particular retinal disease. Usually, I use FA in cases of AMD that have not responded to Anti-VEGF injections. These patients may require PDT laser treatment. For patients with diabetic macula edema, FA is helpful is deciding whether laser treatment to the macula is needed or not.
Fluorescein Angiography Side Effects
It is very rare to get complications from angiograms. The most common side effect is a feeling of nausea when the fluorescein dye is injected. This feeling will go away after a few minutes. Very rarely, you can get an allergic reaction to the fluorescein dye. You may then require medical treatment for this.
Recovery after FA is immediate and most people can go back to normal activities. What you will notice is that your urine will be bright yellow in colour for a few hours. This is due to the fluorescein dye being passed out from your body. Fluorescein angiography is a very safe test and is a important part of the retina specialist’s tools in treating retina diseases.