What Is Eye Dilation & When Do You Need It

eye dilationThe pupils of your eyes normally get smaller when exposed to light. Eye dilation is when your eye doctor uses special eye drops to dilate, or widen, your pupils. The drops force your pupils to stay open even when the eye doctor shines light in your eyes. This allows the eye doctor to more clearly see the back of your eye, including the retina, the macula, and the optic nerve.

Whether eye dilation during an exam is necessary or not depends on the reason for your exam, your age, your overall health, and your risk of eye diseases. Eye dilation is especially important if you’re having vision problems or any eye pain, or if you have risk factors for certain eye diseases.

Eye dilation enables your doctor to detect common diseases and conditions, even at their earliest stages, including:

How often you should to have an eye dilation exam depends on your age, general health, and risk factors. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that adults with no signs or risk factors for eye disease get a baseline exam including dilation at age 40. If you have a family history of glaucoma or macular degeneration you’ll need eye dilation exams on a regular basis. Your ophthalmologist can advise you on how often you should have a dilated eye exam.

What To Expect

Your ophthalmologist will put a small amount of dilating eye drops into each of your eyes. It typically takes about 20 to 30 minutes for your pupils to fully open. Your vision will be slightly blurry and you may have difficulty focusing on objects close up while your eyes are dilated. You may also be sensitive to bright light, so it’s a good idea to bring sunglasses to wear when you leave your appointment.

Depending on the type of dilating eye drop used and how your eyes react, the effects of eye dilation can last a few hours. While most people are comfortable driving after their appointment, it’s a wise idea to make arrangements for someone to drive just in case your vision is too blurry.

Baptist Eye Surgeons is an ophthalmological practice in Knoxville, TN, and Morristown, TN, dedicated to providing quality eye care to patients whose needs range from routine comprehensive eye examinations to complex eye surgeries. To meet our doctors and learn more about our specialities, visit our website or give us a call at 865-579-3920 for more information or to schedule an appointment.


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