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Slit-lamp exam

Definition

The slit-lamp examination looks at structures that are at the front of the eye.

Alternative Names

Biomicroscopy

How the test is performed

The slit-lamp is a low-power microscope combined with a high-intensity light source that can be focused to shine in a thin beam.

You will sit in a chair with the instrument placed in front of you. You will be asked to rest your chin and forehead on a support to keep your head steady.

The health care provider will examine your eyes and may touch a fine strip of paper stained with an orange-colored dye (fluorescein) to the side of your eye. The dye stains the tear film on the surface of the eye to help with the examination. The dye rinses out of the eye with tears.

After this examination, drops may be placed in your eyes to dilate the pupils. The drops take about 15 to 20 minutes to work. The examination is then repeated, allowing the back of the eye to be examined.

How to prepare for the test

No special preparation is necessary for this test.

How the test will feel

Your eyes will be sensitive to light for a few hours after the exam if dilating drops are used.

Why the test is performed

The test is used to examine the eyelids, the sclera, conjunctiva, iris, lens, and the cornea.

Normal Values

Structures in the eye are found to be normal.

What abnormal results mean

The slit lamp exam may detect many diseases of the eye, including:

What the risks are

The dilating drops may cause increased pressure in the eye with nausea and pain. This is very rare, but you should IMMEDIATELY return to your doctor's office if you experience either of these symptoms.


Review Date: 1/21/2009
Reviewed By: Paul B. Griggs, MD, Department of Ophthalmology, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA . Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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