Direct ophthalmoscopy is an important technique for examination of the retina that can be mastered with practice. It can be performed in minutes during the general medical examination and poses virtually no risks to the patient. Ophthalmoscopy allows the general practitioner to evaluate the retina for pathologic changes, particularly in patients with common systemic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, or atherosclerosis. Ophthalmoscopy can also help to identify ophthalmic emergencies that require immediate attention. Copyright © 2015 Massachusetts Medical Society.