As part of your eye exam, your doctor may ask to dilate your eyes. Eye dilation is performed so that your eye doctor can better see inside your eye to check for problems that could affect your vision. Here are a few things you should know about why dilated eyes are often a part of a comprehensive eye exam.

Why You May Need Dilated Eyes

If you are in good health and are at low risk for eye disease, your doctor may not request to dilate the pupils in your eyes each time you have your annual eye exam. How often you will need dilated eyes typically depends on your risk for developing eye disease.

You should have a dilated eye exam every one to two years if you:

  • Are 60 years old or older
  • Have a family history of glaucoma
  • Are over 40 and African American
  • Have diabetes or high blood pressure

If you have any of these risk factors, you should let your eye doctor know. The earlier eye disease is detected, the better your outcome will usually be.

What Problems Can Be Detected During Eye Dilation

While your eyes are dilated, your doctor can see issues in your eye that would otherwise go unnoticed until they progressed to a more advanced stage and damage increases. For example, your eye doctor may be able to see problems like an eye tumor or detached or torn retina that you might not be aware of until it affects your vision.

Because most eye conditions are painless, having dilated eyes can help your eye doctor diagnose such common eye diseases as:

  • Glaucoma
  • Cataracts
  • Age-related macular degeneration
  • Diabetic retinopathy

These are all conditions that can lead to blindness if not treated as early as possible.

What to Expect After Your Eye Dilation

After your eye doctor puts dilation drops in your eyes, it could take up to 30 minutes for your pupils to open fully. Your eyes will usually return to normal within four to six hours. During this time your eyes will be more sensitive to light. It may also be difficult for you to drive after your eye exam. Therefore, unless you have not had an issue before with driving after eye dilation, it might be wise to arrange for a ride home after your exam.

Do you have questions about dilating your eyes during your eye exam? Don’t hesitate to ask your eye doctor at Valley Eyecare Center during your exam. Call us at (602) 955-2700 with questions or to schedule your next eye exam.