If you are preparing to go in for an eye exam you may be wondering whether the ophthalmologist or optometrist will dilate your pupils. Pupil dilation is when the eye doctor uses eye drops to dilate the pupil so that they can look into the back of the eye more easily. Contrary to what many believe, pupil dilation is not done in every eye exam. In fact, if you are going in for a prescription for glasses or contact lenses dilation of your pupil may cause problems. It distorts the lens which makes it impossible to get the right prescription.
Pupil dilation is only done when your eye doctor is looking to diagnose something else or when you go in for a thorough eye exam. There are many diseases that can be diagnosed through the eyes so it is important that you have a through eye exam every two years. The doctor can detect diabetes, eye and brain tumours, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, macular degeneration, retinal detachment, vasculitis, glaucoma and infectious diseases. When the pupil is dilated the doctor will look at the back of your eye with a small microscope for symptoms that include burst blood vessels and discoloration.
Source: Health blog
What can you expect?
The process is simple. Once you get to your doctors office you will be given eye drops in both eyes they are not painful or irritating at all. The dilation process takes about 20 to 30 minutes to complete. Once your eyes are fully dilated you can expect them to be sensitive to light the bigger pupil takes in more light than the eye is used to. You will not be able to see objects that are close. This effect can last for a few hours so you should bring sunglasses to the visit so that you can wear them afterwards and find your way home.
Can children get their eyes dilated?
As a matter of fact, almost every visit that your child makes to the eye doctor will require pupil dilation. This happens for two reasons: the first is that children are generally fidgety and will hardly be still enough for the doctor to get a good look into their eyes without pupil dilation. The second reason is that because their pupils are so small the doctor cannot be able to see much without dilating the pupil. If your child is worried about dilation explain to them that it is not painful. If they are old enough to wear sunglasses you should put them on when you leave the doctors office to prevent irritation from excess light. If they are not shade their eyes as best as you can and when you get home let them stay in a darkened room for a few hours until the effects of the dilation eye drops wear off.
Exceptions to dilation
There are certain exemptions when it comes to dilation. If you are 40 years or older or your family has a history of eye diseases your ophthalmologist may want to do a pupil dilation every time you go in for an eye test even if you are going in for a prescription. They will first show you a chart so that they can get your prescription right and then dilate your pupils and do a thorough test. This is because as we get older we have a higher risk of developing eye disease or the diseases that we mentioned at the beginning of this article.
Also, if you are at a higher risk of developing an eye disease through your genetics your doctor will want to do a thorough screening every time you go in.