When you go to the eye doctor for your routine exam (you are scheduling routine eye exams, aren’t you?), you’ll usually be asked if you’d like to have a dilated eye exam with dilating eye drops. It isn’t anyone’s favorite thing to do, but it’s an important part of ensuring your eyes are healthy. So what are dilating eye drops, and why are they needed?
Dilating Eye Drops – A Way to Tell Your Pupils to Open Wide
Dilating eye drops are a substance vision professionals use to look deep into your eye. They make the dark circle in the middle of the colored part of your eye, called the pupil, larger. This is called dilating. These drops also relax your eye’s ability to focus. Once this is done, your eye doctor can look at areas they couldn’t ordinarily see and ensure their health.
Why Are Dilating Eye Drops Needed?
Your pupils naturally dilate in darker areas so they can let in more light, allowing you to see in dim conditions. Since vision professionals need lights to properly examine your eyes, they must convince the pupil to open in brighter conditions. They use dilating eye drops to accomplish this task.
With your eye dilated, your eye doctor can check for several common eye issues. These include glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and age-related macular degeneration. It’s important to catch each of these conditions early, as treatment options are more effective when they’re started at the first sign of a problem.
What to Expect at a Dilated Eye Exam
Once you agree to the exam, your eye doctor will place drops in each eye. It will take about 20 to 30 minutes for them to fully dilate your eyes. This dilation will give you blurry vision and light sensitivity. You won’t be able to focus well. Your doctor will have a look into your eyes once the drops have worked.
Don’t worry! These effects will wear off after several hours. You’ll need someone to drive you home from your exam, and it helps to bring your sunglasses. They’ll keep you comfortable when you’re on the way home.