What is a Fluorescein Angiogram?

A fluorescein angiogram is a diagnostic test usually performed by a retina specialist.

Fluorescein angiogram is a technique that uses a fluorescent dye and a specialized camera to examine retinal circulation and all three layers of the retina.    

A small amount of fluorescent dye (3-5 cc) is injected into the arm and it travels rapidly through the circulatory system to the eyes’ blood vessels where it is photographed using a fundus camera.

About twelve seconds after the injection, the dye appears in the arteries of the retina. About fifteen minutes after the injection the dye has mostly left the retinal vessels. 

The dye will leave your body through your urine and within 24 to 36 hours all the dye will have been excreted. Your skin may have a yellow tint, but that will go away in a few hours, and your urine may have a yellow tint for a day.

What Does the Test Show?

If your eye is healthy, the blood vessels will have normal shape and size and there will be no blockages or leaks in the vessels.

Fluorescein angiogram is used to find:

  • Macular edema—swelling in the retina that distorts vision
  • Diabetic retinopathy—damaged blood vessels in the eye caused by diabetes
  • Wet macular degeneration—abnormal blood vessels that leak fluid or blood into the macula
  • Macular pucker—a wrinkle in the retina caused by excess fluid behind it

Other Uses

The test is an ideal way to monitor patients receiving anti-VEGF treatments for wet macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.

During the Test

It is common to feel warm or flushed after you have the fluorescein injection. You might feel slightly nauseous, but that will pass within the first few minutes. There may also be some itching or a tingling sensation at the injection site, but this will also pass within a few minutes.