External Ocular Photography

Number: 0734

Table Of Contents

Applicable CPT / HCPCS / ICD-10 Codes


Scope of Policy

This Clinical Policy Bulletin addresses external ocular photography.

  1. Medical Necessity

    Aetna considers external ocular photography medically necessary for the following indications to track and serially compare the changes of the condition, where the results may have an impact on management and clinical outcomes:

    • Acid chemical burn of cornea and conjunctival sac
    • Acute inflammation of orbit, unspecified
    • Adherent leucoma
    • Adhesions of iris, unspecified
    • Alkaline chemical burn of cornea and conjunctival sac
    • Anterior dislocation of lens
    • Anterior pigmentation
    • Anterior synechiae
    • Argentous deposits
    • Band-shaped keratopathy
    • Benign neoplasm of conjunctiva
    • Benign neoplasm of cornea
    • Benign neoplasm of eye, part unspecified
    • Benign neoplasm of eyeball, except retina and choroid
    • Benign neoplasm of eyelid, including canthus
    • Benign neoplasm of lacrimal duct
    • Benign neoplasm of lacrimal gland
    • Benign neoplasm of orbit
    • Benign neoplasm of other specified parts of eye
    • Benign neoplasm of skin of other and unspecified parts of face
    • Blepharitis
    • Blisters, with epidermal loss due to burn (second degree) of eye (with other parts of face, head, and neck)
    • Bullous keratopathy
    • Burn of unspecified degree of eye (with other parts of face, head, and neck)
    • Burn with resulting rupture and destruction of eyeball
    • Carcinoma in situ of eye
    • Carcinoma of eyelid, including canthus
    • Central corneal ulcer
    • Central opacity of cornea
    • Chemical burn of eyelids and periocular area
    • Cicatricial pemphigoid
    • Congenital ptosis
    • Conjunctival melanosis
    • Constant exophthalmos
    • Corneal abscess
    • Corneal deformity, unspecified
    • Corneal degeneration, unspecified
    • Corneal deposit, unspecified
    • Corneal dystrophy, unspecified
    • Corneal ectasia
    • Corneal edema due to wearing of contact
    • Corneal edema, unspecified
    • Corneal membrane change, unspecified
    • Corneal neovascularization, unspecified
    • Corneal opacity, unspecified
    • Corneal staphyloma
    • Corneal ulcer, unspecified
    • Deep necrosis of underlying tissues due to burn (deep third degree) of eye (with other parts of face, head, and neck), without mention of loss of body part
    • Deep necrosis of underlying tissues due to burn (deep third degree) of eye (with other parts of face, head, and neck), with loss of a body part
    • Deep vascularization of cornea
    • Degeneration of pupillary margin
    • Degenerative changes of chamber angle
    • Degenerative changes of ciliary body
    • Dermatochalasis of upper eyelids
    • Descematocele
    • Diffuse interstitial keratitis
    • Double pterygium, to follow in lieu of surgery
    • Endothelial corneal dystrophy
    • Ectropion
    • Entropion
    • Erythema due to burn (first degree) of eye (with other parts face, head, and neck)
    • Essential or progressive iris atrophy
    • Exophthalmic ophthalmoplegia
    • Exophthalmos, unspecified
    • Exudative cysts of iris or anterior chamber
    • Floppy eyelid syndrome
    • Folds and rupture of Bowman's membrane
    • Folds in Descemet's membrane
    • Full-thickness skin loss due to burn (third degree NOS) of eye (with other parts of face, head, and neck)
    • Giant papillary conjunctivitis
    • Goniosynechiae
    • Granular corneal dystrophy
    • Herpes simplex disciform keratitis
    • Herpes zoster keratoconjunctivitis
    • Hyphema
    • Hypopyon
    • Hypopyon ulcer
    • Idiopathic corneal edema
    • Idiopathic cysts
    • Implantation cysts
    • Interstitial keratitis, unspecified
    • Iridoschisis
    • Juvenile epithelial corneal dystrophy
    • Kayser-Fleischer ring
    • Keratoconus, acute hydrops
    • Keratoconus, stable condition
    • Keratoconus, unspecified
    • Keratomalacia NOS
    • Lagophthalmos (cicatricial, mechanical, and paralytic)
    • Late effect of other and unspecified external causes
    • Lattice corneal dystrophy
    • Limbal and corneal involvement in vernal conjunctivitis
    • Localized adhesions and strands of conjunctiva
    • Localized vascularization of cornea
    • Macular corneal dystrophy
    • Malignant neoplasm of conjunctiva, unless excision is planned
    • Malignant neoplasm of the cornea, unless excision is planned
    • Marginal corneal ulcer
    • Minor opacity of cornea
    • Miotic cysts of pupillary margin
    • Mooren's ulcer
    • Mycotic corneal ulcer
    • Neurotrophic keratoconjunctivitis
    • Nodular degeneration of cornea
    • Orbital cellulitis
    • Other and unspecified superficial injuries of eye
    • Other anterior corneal dystrophies
    • Other burn of cornea and conjunctival sac
    • Other burns of eyelids and periocular area
    • Other calcareous degeneration of cornea
    • Other corneal degenerations
    • Other deposits associated with metabolic disorders
    • Other disorders of iris and ciliary body
    • Other forms of keratitis (e.g., superficial punctate keratopathy)
    • Other posterior corneal dystrophies
    • Other stromal corneal dystrophies
    • Pannus (corneal)
    • Perforated corneal ulcer
    • Peripheral degenerations of cornea
    • Peripheral opacity of cornea
    • Peripheral pterygium, progressive, to follow in lieu of surgery
    • Phacolytic glaucoma
    • Phlyctenular keratoconjunctivitis
    • Pigmentary iris degeneration
    • Posterior dislocation of lens
    • Posterior pigmentations
    • Posterior synechiae
    • Pseudopterygium
    • Pterygium, unspecified, to follow in lieu of surgery
    • Ptosis of eyelid
    • Pupillary abnormalities
    • Pupillary membranes
    • Recession of chamber angle
    • Recurrent erosion of cornea
    • Recurrent pterygium, to follow in lieu of surgery
    • Ring corneal ulcer
    • Rubeosis iridis
    • Rupture in Descemet's membrane
    • Scleral melanosis
    • Sclerosing keratitis
    • Secondary corneal edema
    • Stromal pigmentations
    • Subluxation of lens
    • Superficial injury of conjunctiva
    • Superficial injury of cornea
    • Superficial injury of eyelids and periocular area
    • Symblepharon
    • Thyrotoxic exophthalmos
    • Unspecified burn of eye and adnexa
    • Unspecified corneal disorder
    • Unspecified disorder of iris and ciliary body
    • Unspecified keratitis
    • Vascular anomalies of eyelid.

    External ocular photography has no proven value for other indications (e.g., anterior scleritis, collapsed orbital wall, enophthalmos following orbital floor fracture, epiblepharon with trichiasis, sinonasal tumor, evaluating conjunctival hemorrhage, keratoconjunctivitis sicca, recurrent dacryoadenitis and recurrent episcleritis, monitoring pinguecula, ocular rosacea, for use following rectus muscle surgery for exotropia, and White-Sutton syndrome).

    Aetna considers external ocular photography not medically necessary for the sole purpose of documenting the existence of an ocular condition in order to enhance the medical record.


CPT Codes / HCPCS Codes / ICD-10 Codes

Code Code Description

Information in the [brackets] below has been added for clarification purposes.   Codes requiring a 7th character are represented by "+":

CPT codes covered if selection criteria are met:

92285 External ocular photography with interpretation and report for documentation of medical progress (e.g., close-up photography, slit lamp photography, goniophotography, stereo-photography)

ICD-10 codes covered if selection criteria are met:

B00.52 Herpesviral keratitis
B02.33 Zoster keratitis
C44.101 - C44.1992 Other and unspecified malignant neoplasm of eyelid, including canthus
C69.00 - C69.02 Malignant neoplasm of conjunctiva
C69.10 - C69.12 Malignant neoplasm of cornea
D04.10 - D04.122 Carcinoma in situ of skin of eyelid, including canthus
D09.20 - D09.22 Carcinoma in situ of eye
D23.10 - D23.122 Other benign neoplasm of skin of eyelid, including canthus
D23.30 - D23.39 Other benign neoplasm of skin of other and unspecified parts of face
D31.00 - D31.02 Benign neoplasm of conjunctiva
D31.10 - D31.12 Benign neoplasm of cornea
D31.40 - D31.42 Benign neoplasm of ciliary body
D31.50 - D31.52 Benign neoplasm of lacrimal gland and duct
D31.60 - D31.62 Benign neoplasm of unspecified site of orbit
D31.90 - D31.92 Benign neoplasm of unspecified part of eye
H01.001 - H01.02B Blepharitis
H02.001 - H02.049 Unspecified entropion of eyelid
H02.102 - H02.159 Ectropion of eyelid
H02.211 - H02.21C Cicatricial lagophthalmos
H02.221 - H02.22C Mechanical lagophthalmos
H02.231 - H02.23C Paralytic lagophthalmos
H02.401 - H02.439 Ptosis of eye
H02.831 Dermatochalasis of right upper eyelid
H02.834 Dermatochalasis of left upper eyelid
H02.871 - H02.879 Vascular anomalies of eyelid
H02.89 Other specified disorders of eyelid [floppy eyelid syndrome]
H05.00 Unspecified acute inflammation of orbit
H05.011 - H05.019 Cellulitis of orbit
H05.20 Unspecified exophthalmos
H05.241 - H05.249 Constant exophthalmos
H05.89 Other disorders of orbit [thyrotoxic exophthalmos, exophthalmic ophthalmoplegia]
H10.411 - H10.419 Chronic giant papillary conjunctivitis
H11.001 - H11.019 Unspecified and amyloid pterygium of eye
H11.031 - H11.039 Double pterygium of eye
H11.051 - H11.059 Peripheral pterygium of eye, progressive
H11.061 - H11.069 Recurrent pterygium of eye
H11.131 - H11.139 Conjunctival pigmentations [melanosis]
H11.211 - H11.219 Conjunctival adhesions and strands (localized)
H11.231 - H11.239 Symblepharon
H11.811 - H11.819 Pseudopterygium of conjunctiva
H15.89 Other disorders of sclera [melanosis]
H16.001 - H16.079 Corneal ulcer
H16.101 - H16.149 Unspecified superficial keratitis
H16.201 - H16.229 Unspecified keratoconjunctivitis
H16.231 - H16.239 Neurotrophic keratoconjunctivitis
H16.241 - H16.249 Ophthalmia nodosa
H16.251 - H16.259 Phlyctenular keratoconjunctivitis
H16.261 - H16.269 Vernal keratoconjunctivitis, with limbal and corneal involvement
H16.291 - H16.299 Other keratoconjunctivitis
H16.301 - H16.309 Unspecified interstitial keratitis
H16.311 - H16.319 Corneal abscess
H16.321 - H16.329 Diffuse interstitial keratitis
H16.331 - H16.339 Sclerosing keratitis
H16.391 - H16.399 Other interstitial and deep keratitis
H16.401 - H16.409 Unspecified corneal neovascularization
H16.411 - H16.419 Ghost vessels (corneal)
H16.421 - H16.429 Pannus (corneal)
H16.431 - H16.439 Localized vascularization of cornea
H16.441 - H16.449 Deep vascularization of cornea
H16.8 Other keratitis
H16.9 Unspecified keratitis
H17.00 - H17.9 Corneal scars and opacities
H18.001 - H18.069 Corneal pigmentations and deposits
H18.10 - H18.13 Bullous keratopathy
H18.20 - H18.239 Other and unspecified corneal edema
H18.30 - H18.339 Changes of corneal membranes
H18.40 Unspecified corneal degeneration
H18.421 - H18.429 Band keratopathy
H18.43 Other calcerous degeneration of cornea
H18.441 - H18.449 Keratomalacia
H18.451 - H18.459 Nodular corneal degeneration
H18.461 - H18.469 Peripheral corneal degeneration
H18.49 Other corneal degeneration
H18.50 - H18.59 Hereditary corneal dystrophies
H18.601 - H18.629 Keratoconus
H18.70 - H18.799 Other and unspecified corneal deformities
H18.831 - H18.839 Recurrent erosion of cornea
H18.9 Unspecified disorder of cornea
H20.051 - H20.059 Hypopyon
H21.00 - H21.279
H21.301 - H21.329
H21.40 - H21.529
H21.541 - H21.569
H21.81, H21.89 - H21.9
Other disorders of iris and ciliary body
H27.10 - H27.139 Dislocation of lens
H40.50x0 - H40.53x4 Glaucoma secondary to other eye disorders [Phacolytic glaucoma]
L12.1 Cicatricial pemphigoid
Q10.0 Congenital ptosis
S00.201+ - S00.279+ Other and unspecified superficial injuries of eyelid and periocular area
S05.00x+ - S05.02x+ Injury of conjunctiva and corneal abrasion without foreign body
S05.90x+ - S05.92x+ Unspecified injury of eye and orbit
T26.00x+ - T26.92x+ Burns and corrosion confined to eye and adnexa

ICD-10 codes not covered for indications listed in the CPB (not all-inclusive):

C31.0 - C31.9 Malignant neoplasm of accessory sinuses
C78.39 Secondary malignant neoplasm of other respiratory organs
D02.3 Carcinoma in situ of other parts of respiratory system
D14.0 Benign neoplasm of middle ear, nasal cavity and accessory sinuses
D38.5 Neoplasm of uncertain behavior of other respiratory organs. Neoplasm of uncertain behavior of accessory sinuses; Neoplasm of uncertain behavior of cartilage of nose; Neoplasm of uncertain behavior of middle ear; Neoplasm of uncertain behavior of nasal cavities
D49.1 Neoplasm of unspecified behavior of respiratory system
F79 Unspecified intellectual disabilities [White–Sutton syndrome]
H02.051 - H02.059 Trichiasis without entropian
H04.001 - H04.029 Dacryoadenitis
H05.421 - H05.429 Enophthalmos due to trauma or surgery
H10.821 - H10.829 Rosacea conjunctivitis
H11.151 - H11.159 Pinguecula
H11.30 - H11.33 Conjunctival hemorrhage
H15.011 - H15.019 Anterior scleritis
H15.101 - H15.129 Episcleritis
H16.221 - H16.229 Keratoconjunctivitis sicca, not specified as Sjögren's
H50.10 - H50.18 Exotropia
Q10.3 Other congenital malformations of eyelid [epiblepharon]
S02.831A - S02.839S Fracture of medial orbital wall
S02.841A - S02.849S Fracture of lateral orbital wall
S02.85XA - S02.85XS Fracture of orbit, unspecified


External ocular photography can be used to document the progress or deterioration of certain conditions of the external structures of the eye including the eyelids, lashes, sclerae, conjunctiva and cornea.  It may also be used to document progress and deterioration of structures of the anterior chamber including the iris, and filtration angle.  These photographs are commonly made using slit lamp photography, goniophotography, stereophotography or close-up photography.  Regardless of the technique used for the picture taking, the pictures may be stored as prints, slides, videotape or digital medium.

External ocular photography is clinically useful for tracking slowly progressive conditions over prolonged periods of time, where it may be impractical to document progression with hand drawings due to the need to document fine detail, especialy where there is a lack of anatomic landmarks.

Anterior Scleritis

An UpToDate review on “Slit lamp examination” (Knoop, 2020) does not mention scleritis as an indication.

Epiblepharon with Trichiasis

An UpToDate review on “Approach to the child with persistent tearing” (Paysse et al, 2016) states that “Eyelid abnormalities -- Anatomic abnormalities of the eyelids may cause tearing, redness, and foreign body sensation. Trichiasis (ingrown eyelashes) can irritate the cornea, causing reflex tearing and redness, and may be caused by entropion or epiblepharon.  Entropion is the in-turning of the eyelid; epiblepharon is a fold of skin along the lower lid margin, just below the eyelashes.  Both of these conditions can be associated with trichiasis.  Entropion, if significant, is treated with surgical repair.  Children usually outgrow epiblepharon by 2 to 3 years of age without needing to undergo surgery”.  This review does not mention external ocular photography as a management tool.

Floppy Eyelid Syndrome

Floppy eyelid syndrome (FES), a subtype of lax eyelid conditions, often involves over-weight individuals.  It is a distressing condition that can cause significant morbidity and vision loss.  The cause of FES is believed to be a mechanical disorder due to the eversion of the lids while sleeping.  It is usually characterized by chronic eye irritation and an increased laxity of the upper eyelid that can be easily everted by applying minimal upward traction.  Floppy eyelid syndrome has also been reported to be associated with obstructive sleep apnea-hypopnea syndrome.  Blepharoptosis is one of the most common features, which links to FES, for which a thorough differential diagnosis has become important in directing proper medical treatment.  Furthermore, FES can cause superficial corneal and conjunctival injuries; and external ocular photography can be used to document the appearance of the eyelid margin and inferior cornea, and to develop a treatment plan (Donnenfeld et al, 1991, Ezra et al, 2010, and Lee et al, 2018).

Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca

Rutar et al (2015) determined the ophthalmic manifestations of HIV in a cohort of long-term survivors of perinatally acquired HIV.  A total of 22 patients with perinatally acquired HIV who were aged greater than or equal to 12 years were prospectively studied at a university clinic.  They underwent complete ophthalmic examinations and fundus photography.  Their medical histories, medications and CD4 counts were abstracted from the medical records.  To evaluate for kerato-conjunctivitis sicca (KCS), both HIV patients and 44 healthy controls (matched by age, gender and contact lens wear) underwent Schirmer testing and ocular surface staining; 9 male and 13 female HIV patients with mean age of 16.6 years (SD, 3.4) were examined.  Of the 22 HIV patients, 21 had been treated with highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART).  Only 1 patient had a CD4 count nadir of less than 200 cells/µL.  The mean visual acuity (VA) of the eyes of the HIV subjects was 20/22 (SD, 1.6 lines).  No patient had cytomegalovirus retinitis; 4 of the 22 (18 %) HIV patients had strabismus.  HIV subjects and controls had similar rates of abnormal Schirmer (9 % and 14 %, p = 0.62) and ocular staining scores (p = 0.29).  The authors concluded that in the post-HAART era, long-term survivors of perinatally acquired HIV exhibited little vision-threatening disease, but had a high prevalence of strabismus.

Safonova et al (2016) noted that laser confocal tomography of the cornea enables studying ultrathin sections of corneal layers, which provides additional reliable information on tissue changes in KCS.  These researchers evaluated the significance of laser confocal tomography of the cornea in the diagnosis and monitoring of KCS.  They investigated 38 eyes of 30 patients with severe KCS.  The patients were divided into 2 groups: Group 1 (15 patients, 19 eyes) was prescribed cyclosporine А 0.05 % instillations 2 times daily, artificial tears, and soft contact lenses, and Group 2 (15 patients, 19 eyes) received only instillations of cyclosporine А 0.05% 2 times daily and artificial tears.  Besides standard ophthalmic examination, additional tests were performed, namely Schirmer's test, tear break-up time test, fluorescein eye stain test, tear osmolarity test (TearLab System, USA), and Heidelberg retinal tomography of the cornea (HRT, Heidelberg Engineering GmbH, Germany).  HRT findings revealed a 3 times shorter epithelization period and faster recovery of corneal transparency in Group 1 as compared to Group 2 (1.5 and 4.5 months, respectively).  There was also an evident reduction in the number of immune cells in the cornea, most pronounced in group 1 at 3 months, which was indicative of inflammation termination.  The authors concluded that the use of HRT of the cornea in KCS patients allowed real-time cellular level observation of corneal changes, which together with clinical findings and diagnostic tests not only confirmed the diagnosis but also determined treatment effectiveness.  It has been also found that soft contact lenses accelerated epithelization of the cornea and relieved inflammation of the ocular surface in KCS patients under cyclosporine A 0.05 % instillation therapy.

An UpToDate review on “Diagnosis and classification of Sjögren's syndrome” (Baer , 2017a) states that “KCS is characterized primarily by a deficiency in tear production, while hypovitaminosis A is characterized by disordered conjunctival and corneal epithelial turnover, leading to keratinization and a loss of conjunctival goblet cells, resulting in tear mucin deficiency”; it does not mention ocular photography as a management tool.

An UpToDate review on “Clinical manifestations of Sjögren's syndrome: Exocrine gland disease” (Baer, 2017b) does not mention ocular photography as a management tool.

Furthermore, an American Academy of Ophthalmology’s guideline on “Dry eye syndrome” (AAO, 2013) had no recommendation for external ocular photography, either for diagnosis or follow-up.  

Ocular Rosacea

UpToDate reviews on “Management of rosacea” (Maier, 2021) and “Rosacea: Pathogenesis, clinical features, and diagnosis” (Dahl, 2021) do not mention external ocular photography as a management tool.

Recurrent Dacryoadenitis

StatPearls’ webpage on “Dacryoadenitis” (Patel and Patel, 2022) does not mention external ocular photography as an evaluation tool.

Recurrent Episcleritis

StatPearls’ webpage on “Episcleritis” (Schonberg and Stokkermans, 2022) does not mention external ocular photography as an evaluation tool.

White-Sutton Syndrome

White-Sutton syndrome (WHSUS) is a rare neurodevelopmental disorder that affects different systems of the human body.  It is mainly characterized by developmental delay, intellectual disability, cranio-facial abnormalities and commonly features of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).  However, there is a lack of evidence to support the use of external ocular photography in member with de novo White-Sutton syndrome.


The above policy is based on the following references:

  1. American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO). Dry dye syndrome. Preferred Practice Pattern. San Francisco, CA: AAO; October 2013.
  2. Baer AN. Clinical manifestations of Sjögren's syndrome: Exocrine gland disease. UpToDate [online serial]. Waltham, MA: UpToDate; reviewed May 2017b.
  3. Baer AN. Diagnosis and classification of Sjögren's syndrome. UpToDate [online serial]. Waltham, MA: UpToDate; reviewed May 2017a.
  4. Dahl MV. Rosacea: Pathogenesis, clinical features, and diagnosis. UpToDate [online serial]. Waltham, MA: UpToDate; reviewed June 2021.
  5. Donnenfeld ED, Perry HD, Gibralter RP, et al. Keratoconus associated with floppy eyelid syndrome. Ophthalmology. 1991;98(11):1674-1678.
  6. Ezra DG, Beaconsfield M, Collin R. Floppy eyelid syndrome: Stretching the limits. Surv Ophthalmol. 2010;55(1):35-46.
  7. Farrow A. Clinical ocular photography. Br J Ophthalmol. 2000;84(8):363G.
  8. Fogla R, Rao SK. Ophthalmic photography using a digital camera. Indian J Ophthalmol. 2003;51(3):269-272.
  9. HealthNow UMD. Ocular photography, external. Contractor's Determination No. OP016E00. February 20, 2006.
  10. Knoop KJ. Slit lamp examination. UpToDate [online serial]. Waltham, MA: UpToDate; reviewed July 2020.
  11. Lee CC, Lai HT, Kuo YR, et al. Floppy eyelid syndrome: An unfamiliar entity for plastic surgeons. Ann Plast Surg. 2018;80(2S Suppl 1):S40-S47.
  12. Maier LE. Management of rosacea. UpToDate [online serial]. Waltham, MA: UpToDate; reviewed June 2021.
  13. Patel R, Patel BC. Dacryoadenitis. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island, FL: StatPearls Publishing; updated May 24, 2022. 
  14. Paysse EA, Coats DK, Cassidy M. Approach to the child with persistent tearing. UpToDate [online serial]. Waltham, MA: UpToDate; reviewed June 2016.
  15. Rutar T, Youm J, Porco T, et al. Ophthalmic manifestations of perinatally acquired HIV in a US cohort of long-term survivors. Br J Ophthalmol. 2015;99(5):650-653.
  16. Safonova TN, Gladkova OV, Boev VI. Significance of laser confocal tomography in diagnosis and monitoring of keratoconjunctivitis sicca. Vestn Oftalmol. 2016;132(2):47-54.
  17. Saine PJ. Tutorial: External ocular photography. J Ophthalmic Photography. 2006;28(1):8-20.
  18. Schonberg S, Stokkermans TJ. Episcleritis. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island, FL: StatPearls Publishing; updated March 16, 2022.