What is an Ultrasound Scan | Ophthalmology


What’s an eye and orbit ultrasound?

Ophthalmic and orbital ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to measure and produce detailed images of the eye’s orbit (the cavity in your skull that catches your eye). This test provides a more detailed view of the inside of your eye than a routine eye exam.

Usually, an ultrasound technician or ophthalmologist (a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating disorders and eye diseases) will perform this procedure (sometimes called eye studies). Eye studies may be done in an office, outpatient imaging center, or hospital.

Why I need an eye and orbit ultrasound?

Your ophthalmologist may order eye studies if you have unexplained problems with your eyes or if you have recently had an injury or trauma to the eye area.

This procedure is useful in identifying eye problems as well as diagnosing eye diseases. It includes some issues the test can help identify:

  • Tumors or tumors that affect the eye
  • External influences
  • Retinal detachment

An ultrasound of the eyes and shellfish may also be used to aid in diagnosis or monitoring:

  • Glaucoma (progressive disease leading to loss of vision)
  • Cataracts (cloudy areas of the lens)
  • Lens implants (plastic lenses implanted in the eye after the natural lens has been removed, usually due to a cataract)

Your doctor can also use this procedure to measure the thickness and extent of the cancerous tumor and determine treatment options.

Preparation of ultrasound

Ophthalmic and orbital ultrasound does not require any specific preparation. There is no pain associated with this procedure. Numbing drops will be used to numb your eye and reduce discomfort. The pupil will not dilate, but your vision may be temporarily blurred during the test.

You will be able to drive 30 minutes after the procedure, although you will still feel comfortable driving with someone else. Your eye doctor will advise you not to rub your eyes until the anesthetic has completely gone. This is to protect you from accidentally scratching your cornea.

Procedure of ultrasound

The test is often done in an ophthalmologist’s office or in the ophthalmology department of a hospital or clinic. Your eye is numbed with medicine (numbing drops). An ultrasound wand (transducer) is placed on the front surface of the eye.

Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves that are transmitted through the eye. The reflections (echoes) of the sound waves form a picture of the eye’s structure. The test takes about 15 minutes.

There are two types of scans: are A-scan and B-scan.


  • Most of the time you’ll sit in a chair with your chin resting. You will look straight ahead
  • A small probe is placed in front of your eye
  • The test may also be done while you are lying down. This way, a cup filled with liquid is placed over your eye for the test


  • You will sit and be asked to look in many directions. The test is often done with your eyes closed
  • A gel is applied to the skin of your eyelids. The B-scan probe is gently placed on your eyelids for the test

Normal Results

For A-scan, eye measurements are in the normal range

For a B test, the eye and socket structures appear normal

What Abnormal Results Mean

A picture of B may appear:

  • Bleeding into the clear gel (vitreous) that fills the back of the eye (vitreous hemorrhage)
  • Cancer of the retina (retinoblastoma), under the retina, or in other parts of the eye (such as melanoma)
  • Tissue damage or injuries to the bony (orbital) cavity that surrounds and protects the eye
  • Foreign bodies
  • Pulling the retina away from the back of the eye (retinal detachment)
  • Swelling (inflammation)
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