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Fundus autofluorescence is a non-invasive diagnostic test that involves taking digital photographs of the back of the eye without a contrast dye.  These images can help with the early detection of diseased retina in serious eye conditions such as macular degeneration, hereditary retinal degenerations, and retinal toxicity from the long-term use of medications such as hydroxychloroquine (plaquenil).

Geographic Atrophy due to Advanced Dry Macular Degeneration

Fluorophores are chemical structures that possess fluorescent properties when exposed to light of a particular wavelength.  Lipofuscin is a fluorophore that accumulates with age but can also occur from cell dysfunction.  When excited with short to medium wavelengths of visible light, lipofuscin  autofluoresces (glows).  Autofluorescence imaging uses this technology to record fluorescence that occurs naturally in the eye or accumulates as a result of disease.  Fundus autofluorescence uses light to produce images, rather than radiation, sound, or radiofrequency waves.  As a result, there is no risk to the patient or harmful side effects.

Your doctor can evaluate the health of the retina using this imaging technology.  This technology allows your doctor to detect diseases of the retina at early stages and has made timely intervention possible in a number of retinal conditions.  Fundus autofluorescence imaging may be performed multiple times to monitor the progression of retinal diseases, need for intervention and response to treatment.

Fundus autofluorescence is non-invasive, fast diagnostic test that usually takes only a few minutes to perform in your doctor’s office.