When you go for an eye exam, you will be asked if you want your eyes dilated. Pupil dilation is part of a comprehensive eye exam and important for your eye health. However, many people don't know all the details on how and why pupil dilation is done. Here is more information about pupil dilation and a similar procedure called digital retinal imaging.
What Is Pupil Dilation?
Pupil dilation is a painless procedure where the doctor places eye drops in your eyes to relax the iris. This allows the pupil to remain open even when light is shined directly into the eye. That way, the doctor can see more of your retina, or the light-receptive area in the back of the eye. If the eyes are not dilated, then the doctor can only see a small portion of the retina and may miss serious issues.
Why Is Pupil Dilation Needed?
Pupil dilation is the gold-standard way to check the retina for major eye diseases. This procedure allows the doctor to thoroughly examine your eye's interior blood vessels and tissues. Macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and tumors are examples of what this procedure helps find. People who are over 60, or at a high risk of serious eye conditions, should have their pupils dilated regularly.
What Can One Expect During Pupil Dilation?
Eye drops help relax the eye and tend to take about a half-hour to take effect. While your eyes are dilated, you will be more sensitive to light and your vision may be blurry, especially close up. The effects could last for up to six hours, so be prepared to have someone drive you home after the procedure. Also, bring your sunglasses to protect your eyes after you leave. Try not to read or work on a computer screen until your eyes have recovered.
What Is Digital Retinal Imaging?
Retinal imaging is often said to be an alternative to pupil dilation. Instead of manually inspecting the retina, the doctor takes a quick digital image of it during the eye exam. One advantage of this procedure is there is a more permanent record of the results. Many optometrists prefer pairing digital retinal imaging with standard pupil dilation. This is important for the most accurate and thorough results, especially if you are at high risk.
For most optometrist's offices, it's standard procedure to offer eye dilation on the day of your eye exam. This procedure is important for checking on your eye's physical health. With pupil dilation, your optometrist can detect serious visual problems before you lose your vision. If it's been a while since your last eye exam, then contact an optometrist for an appointment.