Electroretinography (ERG)

Assesses retinal function, crucial for diagnosing various eye conditions and monitoring treatment.

Table of Contents

Understanding Electroretinography (ERG)


Electroretinography (ERG) is a non-invasive diagnostic technique that measures the electrical responses generated by retinal cells in response to light stimulation. By analyzing these electrical signals, ERG provides valuable insights into retinal function and helps diagnose a wide range of ocular diseases and conditions.


During an ERG procedure, the patient is dark-adapted to maximize retinal sensitivity, then exposed to flashes of light of varying intensity and wavelength. Electrodes placed on the cornea and skin record the electrical activity generated by the retina in response to light stimulation, providing information about photoreceptor and inner retinal function.

Applications of ERG in Veterinary Ophthalmology

Diagnostic Evaluation

ERG is instrumental in diagnosing and characterizing various retinal diseases and conditions in animals, including progressive retinal degeneration, inherited retinal disorders, retinal toxicity, and optic neuropathies. Abnormalities in ERG responses can indicate specific retinal pathology and aid in treatment planning.

Screening for Hereditary Diseases

ERG can be used as a screening tool for hereditary retinal diseases in breeding animals to identify carriers and prevent the spread of genetic disorders within breeding populations. Early detection of hereditary conditions allows for informed breeding decisions and genetic counseling.

Conducting an ERG Procedure


During an ERG procedure, the patient is typically placed under sedation or general anesthesia to ensure immobility and minimize stress. Electrodes are positioned on the cornea and skin, and the patient is exposed to flashes of light stimuli while electrical responses are recorded. The entire procedure is performed in a darkened room to optimize retinal sensitivity.

Types of ERG

Different types of ERG tests may be performed based on the specific information required, including:

  • Scotopic ERG: Measures rod-mediated retinal function under low-light conditions.
  • Photopic ERG: Assesses cone-mediated retinal function under light-adapted conditions.
  • Flicker ERG: Evaluates temporal processing of the retina by assessing responses to flickering light stimuli.

Benefits of ERG in Veterinary Practice

Objective Assessment

ERG provides an objective evaluation of retinal function, allowing for accurate diagnosis and monitoring of ocular diseases without subjective interpretation.

Early Detection

ERG can detect retinal dysfunction before clinical signs become apparent, enabling early intervention and potentially preserving vision in affected animals.

Considerations and Limitations

Anesthesia Risks

ERG requires sedation or general anesthesia, which poses potential risks, especially in patients with underlying health conditions. Veterinary teams carefully evaluate each patient’s health status and anesthesia risk to minimize complications.

Interpretation Challenges

Interpreting ERG results requires specialized training and expertise, as abnormalities may be subtle and require careful analysis to differentiate normal variations from pathological changes.


Electroretinography (ERG) is a valuable diagnostic tool in veterinary ophthalmology, providing detailed insights into retinal function and aiding in the diagnosis and management of ocular diseases in animals. By understanding the principles, applications, procedure, benefits, and considerations of ERG in veterinary practice, veterinarians can leverage this advanced diagnostic technique to enhance patient care and improve outcomes for animals with retinal disorders.

Animal Eye Clinic

Monday, Tuesday & Thursday 9am – 5pm
Wednesday 9am – 5pm
Saturday – Closed

Animal Emergency Center of the Quad Cities

Every Tuesday and Friday

Scroll to Top