Although dilation seems like a large hassle, eye dilation is an important component to an annual eye health exam. It is especially important to dilate eyes if a patient is complaining of eye pain or vision loss. When light is shined into the eye, the normal pupillary response is to constrict to limit the amount of light that enters. Special drops are used to prevent pupil constriction and allow the pupil to stay wide open in order to allow the doctor to view the entire retina, optic nerve, blood vessels and macula. During this dilated time, the doctor can spot problems, diagnose and manage conditions that can be ocular or even systemic.
Some ocular conditions that can be diagnosed during a dilated eye exam include a detached or torn retina, glaucoma, age related macular degeneration and even cataracts. Systemic conditions that can be diagnosed and monitored include diabetes, high blood pressure, blood disorders and systemic medication side effects. Some of these ocular and systemic conditions render themselves painless inside the eye, so you may not even know that you are being affected without the doctor looking on a dilated eye exam.
Dilation duration varies from person to person. The drops generally take about 15 to 30 minutes in order to allow the pupil to completely open. Most patients return back to normal vision and pupil size within 4 to 6 hours. Dilation does not usually affect your distance vision with correction, however the amount of light that gets into your eyes is no longer controllable which can cause excess glare. This may make patients uncomfortable driving. If you do feel uncomfortable driving, it is best to bring someone with you or bring a dark pair of sunglasses to allow less light into your eyes. You will be able to resume work after your eyes are dilated, however it may be harder to focus on tasks that require the use of near vision. If you work outside, it will also be very bright without sunglasses. It may be best to schedule an appointment later in the day in order to avoid difficulties at work if this is a concern. When’s the last time that you had a complete dilated eye exam? Call 860-233-2020 to schedule your exam today with one of our eyecare specialists.