Many of our patients ask why they need to have their eyes dilated when we examine them. Eye dilation can cause mildly unpleasant — but temporary — side effects and is generally something patients prefer to avoid.
But there are good reasons your eye doctor must dilate your eyes during some eye exams.
Why Must my Eyes Be Dilated During an Eye Exam?
Generally speaking, one’s pupil contracts or gets smaller when light is shined into it. Unfortunately, this makes it very difficult for the clinician to see into the back of the eye (which includes the retina, the macula, and the optic nerve).
In order to keep the pupil open for what is called a “dilated exam,” special eye drops are used. This allows the doctor to get a good look into the back or posterior sections of the eye.
Eye Diseases that Dilation Helps to Diagnose and Monitor
Many diseases of the eye can be diagnosed, monitored and treated with the assistance of a dilated eye exam. These include:
Temporary Side Effects of Eye Dilation
Patients are sometimes hesitant to have their eyes dilated because the drops may cause unpleasant side effects, including:
- The eyes may sting for a short time.
- The eyes become more sensitive to bright light.
- Vision may be temporarily blurry.
- It becomes more difficult to focus at near distances.
Some people’s pupils return to normal in a few hours, and for other people, it can take longer (up to a day). Wearing sunglasses and abstaining from tasks that require close up vision may be helpful. Having someone drive you home from your eye exam is another option.
While dilation may be slightly uncomfortable, it is an essential part of a comprehensive eye examination.
If you live in central New Jersey, contact Atlantic Medical Eye Care to set up your next eye exam.