Fluorescein Angiography

Fluorescein angiography is an imaging test to view the blood vessels in your retina. The retina is the layer of eye tissue that sends visual information to your brain. You may have fluorescein angiography to diagnose or monitor an eye disease that affects your retina.


A fluorescein angiography result
Fluorescein angiography highlights the blood vessels in your retina.

What is fluorescein angiography?

Fluorescein angiography is a test to take pictures of the layer of tissue in the back of your eye (retina). Your retina sends images to your brain so you can see.

During the test, your provider gives you eye drops that widen (dilate) your pupils. Your provider also injects a dye called fluorescein through a vein in your arm. This fluorescent dye travels to the blood vessels in your eye. The dye highlights the blood vessels and allows your provider to see them clearly so they can screen or look for conditions that might impact your vision.


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What is fluorescein angiography used for?

Your healthcare provider uses fluorescein angiography to diagnose or monitor eye conditions that affect the blood vessels in your retina, such as:

  • Age-related macular degeneration. An inherited condition that leads to vision loss in people over the age of 50.
  • Cystoid macular edema. The center of your retina swells with fluid, causing blurry vision.
  • Diabetes-related retinopathy. Weakens the blood vessels in your retina, which can lead to vision loss.
  • Macular hole. A hole in the middle of your retina that causes vision changes.
  • Macular pucker. A wrinkle in your retina that distorts your vision.
  • Ocular melanoma. A type of eye cancer.
  • Retinal detachment. When your retina pulls away from the tissues that support it.
  • Retinitis pigmentosa. A group of inherited eye diseases that lead to vision changes that range from problems with night vision to loss of the ability to see color or very low vision.

Who performs fluorescein angiography?

A healthcare provider specializing in eye diseases (ophthalmologist) performs fluorescein angiography.


Test Details

How do I prepare for fluorescein angiography?

Before the test, you’ll need to arrange transportation to and from the test. Dilating your pupils can affect your vision for up to 12 hours, so you won’t be able to drive yourself home.

Your healthcare provider will review all of your medications with you before your appointment. You may need to stop taking certain medicines temporarily.

Tell your healthcare provider if you have any allergies, especially allergies to iodine. Also, tell your healthcare provider if you’re pregnant or think you could be. Doctors don’t know yet how fluorescein angiography could affect a developing fetus.

What to expect during fluorescein angiography?

You usually have fluorescein angiography in your provider’s office. On the day of the test, remove contact lenses if you wear them. During the test, your provider:

  1. Gives you eye drops to dilate your pupils.
  2. Instructs you to rest your forehead and chin against the camera and remain still.
  3. Takes the first batch of images.
  4. Injects contrast dye into your arm vein.
  5. Takes the second batch of pictures as the fluorescein moves through the blood vessels in your eyes.

Fluorescein angiography is a quick test. It usually takes fewer than 30 minutes.


What to expect after fluorescein angiography?

You can return home the same day as fluorescein angiography. Although most people don’t feel much during the test, after the test, you’ll have to take some precautions for a few hours. After fluorescein angiography, it’s common to have:

  • Increased sensitivity to light. You’ll need to wear sunglasses until the sensitivity goes away.
  • Blurred vision. You’ll need to have someone drive you home and you may need to take the day off work to allow your pupils to return to their normal size.

What are the risks of fluorescein angiography?

Fluorescein angiography is low risk for most people. Rarely, some people have an allergic reaction to the dye and may develop hives or itching.

Some people are sensitive to fluorescein and may have:

What are the side effects of fluorescein angiography?

Side effects are common and may include:

  • Burning sensations on your skin if the dye leaks during the injection. These sensations last only a few minutes, and the dye doesn’t harm your skin.
  • Dark or tinted vision for several minutes.
  • Skin that appears slightly yellow for up to several hours.
  • Urine that appears dark yellow or orange for up to 24 hours.

Results and Follow-Up

What should I know about the results of fluorescein angiography?

Your ophthalmologist will discuss the test results with you within a few days. If the test showed blockages or leaks in your blood vessels, it could point to a health condition such as diabetes-related retinopathy or macular degeneration. Your provider may order more tests for diagnosis.

When should I go to the emergency room?

Call your healthcare provider if you experience any symptoms of an allergic reaction.

Rarely, allergic reactions can cause breathing problems or other life-threatening complications, including anaphylaxis. If you experience symptoms that affect your breathing, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency center.

Additional Common Questions

Is fluorescein angiography painful?

Fluorescein angiography might cause uncomfortable side effects, but it shouldn’t be painful. Tell your healthcare provider if you experience any pain during the test.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Fluorescein angiography is a test to look at your retina. It uses a contrast dye to highlight your blood vessels. Eye specialists use fluorescein angiography to diagnose or monitor eye diseases, such as diabetes-related retinopathy or macular degeneration. Fluorescein angiography is a safe test but may cause side effects such as blurred vision.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed on 12/27/2022.

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