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Fluorescein angiography

Patient information A-Z

Fluorescein angiography is a routine retinal diagnostic procedure, which gives information on the retinal and optic nerve blood vessels at the back of the eye. It is particularly useful in wet AMD (age-related macular degeneration) and diabetes but it is also helpful in many other eye disorders.

Before the procedure

Before the procedure, you will have drops put in your eyes to enlarge the pupils. The drops take from 20 to 30 minutes to fully dilate your pupils. This enables the photographer to view the back of your eye.

These drops will cause temporary blurring of your near vision, possibly your distance vision and sensitivity to bright lights. This usually lasts about four hours but can last up to 24 hours. It is therefore advisable to make appropriate transport arrangements. Bring sunglasses with you if you have them.

The procedure

An intravenous cannula (a thin tube) will be inserted into a vein in your arm or hand by a trained member of staff before the procedure.

The procedure is performed while you are seated with your chin on a rest and your forehead against a headband. It is important that you are comfortable.

A doctor or specially trained nurse will inject a small quantity of fluorescein dye into a vein in your arm or hand. The camera will flash repeatedly to take the photographs.

Please follow the photographer’s instructions as closely as you can. It is important not to move your head or eyes unless you are told to do so.

The procedure lasts about ten minutes.

Side effects of the treatment

  • Fluorescein angiography involves injecting an intravenous dye. There is a remote risk of life-threatening adverse reaction requiring immediate treatment. The procedure is, therefore, always performed with emergency resuscitation facilities and trained medical staff immediately available.
  • The fluorescein dye will give your skin a yellowish tinge and will also turn your urine bright yellow for a few hours following the procedure.
  • You may develop a transient rash or itch.
  • Some patients feel nauseated during the test. If you take a few deep breaths, the nausea usually passes rapidly.
  • There should be no discomfort from the procedure and care is taken to ensure that the dye flows freely. Very occasionally, the dye can leak around the injection site causing pain for a few hours.
  • The risk of death from fluorescein angiographic injections is less than 1 in 200,000.
  • Serious reactions from fluorescein angiography are extremely rare, except in patients with severe asthma or allergic diseases. Please tell the doctor if any of the following apply to you:
    - asthma
    - allergy to any medicines, food or animals
    - taking any medication
    - previous reaction to fluorescein
    - pregnancy
  • You may not be able to have the test if your kidneys are not functioning properly. Please inform the clinician who has requested the procedure if you have any kidney failure or dysfunction.

Privacy and dignity

Same sex bays and bathrooms are offered in all wards except critical care and theatre recovery areas where the use of high-tech equipment and/or specialist one to one care is required.

We are smoke-free

Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.

Other formats

Help accessing this information in other formats is available. To find out more about the services we provide, please visit our patient information help page (see link below) or telephone 01223 256998.

Contact us

Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151