Article Date: 6/1/2009

Jump-start Your Practice With a Nonmydriatic Camera
Tech Connection

Jump-start Your Practice With a Nonmydriatic Camera

Find out why this instrument is indispensable in a new practice.

By Philip M. Buscemi, OD
Greensboro, N.C.

WHEN STARTING an optometric practice, it's always best to have equipment that supports the health of your patients' eyes and your practice. Few instruments do a better job of meeting this dual role than a nonmydriatic camera.

This particular camera produces high-resolution digital images that will enable you to diagnose and monitor glaucoma progression, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy and other retinal diseases. In this article, I'll discuss the benefits of this technology and offer tips for purchasing it.

Why Nonmydriatic?

Studies have shown that, in most cases, clinicians can use a nonmydriatic camera in a darkened room to screen for most retinal disease, such as diabetic retinopathy and AMD.1,2 In a minority of cases, opaque media, advancing age and very small pupil size can present challenges when trying to detect retinal pathology. But you can overcome these obstacles with a nonmydriatic camera by employing mild dilation.

When used as a screening device, the nonmydriatic camera can decrease the risk of disease progression that can go undetected for long periods of time.

Furthermore, you can easily train a technician to produce high-quality digital images during pretesting. The camera can establish a healthy baseline image or track disease progression over time.

Choosing the Best

When selecting a nonmydriatic camera, make sure it has these features:

Good field of view. Models range from 30° to 200°, allowing you to see lesions in the peripheral retina.

Network capability. Nonmydriatic cameras can connect to PCs, EMR systems and exam room monitors and enable you to download images on a memory stick or DVD/CD.

Functionality. Select a camera that has autofocus and autoshoot capabilities. A camera that allows you to manipulate and magnify images and facilitate stereo imaging are great features.

Minimal pupil diameter. Many nonmydriatic cameras enable you to screen patients whose pupils are smaller than 4.0 mm in diameter.

Imaging quality. Look for optics that provide both brilliant colors and high resolution.

Patient comfort. Cameras use different types of light but most are designed to minimize flash for patients who are sensitive to bright light. Evaluate the lighting by taking your own picture.

Speed. You can obtain images of diabetic retinopathy anytime between 15 seconds to 5 minutes, which still saves you about 25 minutes compared to traditional fundus photography.

Finding the Right Manufacturer

To select the best nonmydriatic camera for your practice, it pays to do some research. Reviewing manufacturer Web sites and talking to sales reps will help you make the best decision for your patients and your practice. nOD


  1. Massin P, Erginay A, Ben Mehidi A, et al. Evaluation of a new non-mydriatic digital camera for detection of diabetic retinopathy. Diabet Med. 2003; 20:635–641.
  2. Klein R, Meuer S, Moss SE, Klein BE, Neider MW, Reinke J. Detection of age-related macular degeneration using a nonmydriatic digital camera and a standard film fundus camera. Arch Ophthalmol. 2004;122:1642–1646.
Dr. Buscemi, who has practiced in Greensboro, N.C. since 1980, is a long-time authority on diagnostic ophthalmic instruments. Besides working in private practice, he's also president of Medops, LLC, a consulting company to the ophthalmic industry. You can reach him at

Optometric Management, Issue: June 2009