The Importance of Eye Dilation

Many patients wonder “is it really necessary to dilate my eyes during my exam?”

The simple answer is “yes.” Your eye doctor may be able to determine your glasses and contact lens prescription without it, but dilated eye examinations are important because they allow your doctor to check for common vision problems and eye diseases, many of which have no early warning signs or noticeable symptoms.

To perform the dilation, your eye doctor will put special drops in your eyes that will cause the pupil (a dark opening in the center of the iris) to widen. A dilated pupil allows your doctor to see more of the retina (Figure 1), the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye.

Examining the retina allows your doctor to diagnose certain diseases and conditions of the eye, such as macular degeneration, retinal detachment, infectious diseases, and sometimes eye tumors. Even conditions that are seemingly unrelated to the eyes can be detected through a dilated eye exam, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. A dilated eye exam also allows your doctor to examine your optic nerve to check for signs of glaucoma.

After the dilated examination, your close-up vision may be blurred for several hours. This can make it difficult to read, text, and to use a computer. You may also feel light sensitive, which may make it more difficult to drive without a good pair of sunglasses. It is a good idea to bring a pair of polarized sunglasses with you to your exam to minimize any light sensitivity and glare you may experience after you leave our office. Disposable pairs of sunglasses are also made available to you at Boling Vision Center for your convenience.

Regular dilated eye exams can help you protect your sight and make sure that you are seeing your best. Be sure to have your eyes dilated at least every one to two years, or as indicated by your eye doctor, to maintain the optimum health for your eyes.

If you haven’t had a dilated eye exam in the past 1-2 years, be sure to schedule your appointment today. Protect your precious sense of sight.

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