Many optometrists and ophthalmologists offer their patients retinal scanning as part of a thorough eye exam. The problem, though, is that many insurance plans don't cover the procedure, so you'll have to pay an additional cost. Is it worth it?
What is a Retinal Scan?
A retinal scan uses a high-resolution camera to take an image of the back of your eye, including the retina, by using low-powered levels of laser light. This allows the doctor to see into your eye and evaluate you for any diseases or other issues. The camera can record about 80 percent of your retina and the image can be saved for your medical records.
Before digital retinal imaging was available, the only way for your eye doctor to view the interior structure of your eye was to dilate the pupil. This process widens the pupil so the doctor can see into the eye, but it also causes some patients to get headaches and have trouble with bright light for a few hours. Also, most patients who get their eyes dilated cannot drive home from their appointment or do close-up work for a few hours.
Why Should You Get a Retinal Scan?
Retinal scans are not necessarily better than dilation eye exams, but they are quick and more convenient for many people. As well, the digital images can be saved in your records and referred to at future eye doctor visits to make sure that there are no developing issues.
Some of the diseases or issues that are easy to identify with a retinal scan include:
Why Don't Insurance Plans Cover the Extra Cost?
In short, insurance plans don't cover the added cost of the retinal imaging because they are trying to keep costs low. Dilation is much less expensive and delivers the same results, so that's what insurance plans typically cover.
In order to offer the retinal imaging service, which is more convenient for many patients, doctors must charge an additional cost that pays for the purchase and maintenance of the machine.
For the added convenience and ability to save and refer to past images, retinal imaging may be the best solution for you. If you have questions about whether a digital retinal scan is right for you, talk to your eye doctor.
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