Fluorescein angiography is the practice of taking photographs of blood vessels inside the eye (an angiogram) with the help of a contrast dye (fluorescein dye). These pictures help doctors evaluate the retina and diagnose and track problems such as diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, abnormal vessel growth, swelling, leaking, retinal detachment, cancer or tumors.
First, the patient’s pupils are dilated with eye drops. Then a few photographs are taken with a special ophthalmic camera. Next, the contrast dye is injected, usually in the patient’s arm. The dye travels up to the eye within a few seconds and “lights up” the blood vessels for the camera. Once the dye is in place, the doctor will take more photographs. Then the needle is removed. After about 20 minutes, a final set of photographs is taken for comparison.