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Fundus Fluorescein Angiography (FFA)

Fundus Fluorescein Angiography (FFA)

What is Fundus Fluorescein Angiography?

This is a diagnostic procedure, when a dye (Fluorescein) is injected into a vein in your arm or hand and sets of digital photographs are taken to display the blood vessels at the back of your eye. It shows any abnormal blood vessels and any leaking spots causing your eye problems. This information is essential for the eye consultant to find the problem and plan your treatment

You are advised NOT to drive for the rest of the day after you have had this procedure

Fluorescein(the dye) – The Risks Involved

This dye is a deep orange colour. It has been in use for many years. The fluorescein dye causes few side effects. It has been proved safe to use in young as well as in older patients. The common side effects are nausea and vomiting. Skin rashes and itching are seen at times.

More serious side effects are spasm of the airway, anaphylactic shock and collapse. However, these risks are extremely rare.

After injection, the skin shows temporary yellow discolouration. During this stage, you should avoid exposure to direct sunlight. If the dye leaks outside the vein it may cause temporary pain. This can be relieved by cold compression. If the injection site remains painful or causes you concern, please seek medical advice. The dye is metabolised in the liver and excreted from your body via your kidneys. The urine remains orange-green
in colour for 24-48 hours.

Patients with Diabetes

This dye gives a false high reading in the urine and on blood sugar tests. You should not adjust your insulin or any of your diabetic treatments based on these results during the first 2 days following the fluorescein angiogram. If you are concerned, please seek medical advice.

Eye conditions in which your doctor may advice an FFA

  • Diabetic or other retinopathy
  • Macular degeneration
  • Circulatory problems – Retinal vessel occlusion
  • Inflammation or edema
  • Hypertensive retinopathy
  • Retinal detachment
  • Retinitis pigmentosa
  • Papilledema (swelling of the optic disc)

What Will Happen On the Day of the Procedure?

On arrival for your appointment you will have your

  • Vision tested and have dilating eyedrops put into your eyes to enlarge the pupils. This is to ensure the best photographs possible.
  • It is important to take photographs of both eyes even if you only have a problem with one.
  • You will have your blood pressure checked and be asked about any allergies, medications and medical conditions.
  • You will then have a short wait whilst the eyedrops take effect (about 30 minutes), you will then be escorted into the photography room.
  • You are seated in front of the camera with your chin and forehead resting firmly on the frame.

The test is carried out in stages.

  • A series of colour photographs are taken of the back of your eye.
  • A small needle is inserted into a vein in your arm or hand. The lights will be turned off and the dye injected. Once the dye reaches the back of the eye, (this only takes a few seconds), the photographer will begin to take lots of pictures. The lights from the camera flash are quite bright but it is very important to keep your eye open, a nurse will help you if necessary.
  • You will then have a short rest.
  • Another series of photographs will then be taken a few minutes later. The needle will then be removed and you will be asked to wait in the waiting area for about 15 minutes.
  • You will usually be given another appointment to discuss the results and plan your treatment with the eye doctor, although this is sometimes possible on the same day as the test.
  • If you develop any problems over the next 24 hours, please contact eyesolutions at the earliest.