If you are like most people, you do not like getting your eyes dilated for a comprehensive eye exam. Those pesky eye drops as well as the light sensitivity and blurred vision that typically follow the procedure can feel like a hassle. Truth is, however, a dilated eye exam is one the most important diagnostic tests an eye doctor can perform to monitor a variety of ocular and systemic issues.

Let’s take a look at what makes an annual comprehensive dilated exam so important.

What is a Dilated Eye Exam?

A comprehensive eye exam involves shining a bright light into your eyes. The problem is that bright light causes the pupil to shrink, which makes it difficult for your optometrist to see all the way to the back of your eye (retina). Dilating the pupil is the only way to give your eye doctor a good look inside your eye.

To perform a dilated eye exam, your eye doctor will use special eye drops to widen your pupil and force it to stay open. This allows for a much more accurate evaluation of your eye’s structure, including the entire retina, blood vessels, tissues, focusing lens, optic nerve, and the part of the retina called the macula.

An annual comprehensive dilated eye exam will help your optometrist detect signs of eye conditions that could potentially lead to vision, improving the chances of treating them before they spiral out of control. Some of the eye conditions that can be diagnosed when the pupils are dilated include:

  • Glaucoma
  • Age-related macular degeneration
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Retinal tears or detachments
  • Ocular tumors
  • Eye floaters

A dilated eye exam can also help detect health conditions such as multiple sclerosis, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

Who Should Get an Annual Comprehensive Dilated Eye Exam?

The frequency of dilated eye exams depends on your risk for eye disease. The National Eye Institute recommends an annual comprehensive dilated eye examination if:

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

If you’re under 40 and considered to be in good health, you should have an exam every two to three years, unless vision changes occur.

When it comes to eye health, we simply don’t know if there’s a problem until we look. A dilated eye exam can prevent vision loss or blindness. To make an appointment for your annual comprehensive dilated eye exam, contact Valley Eyecare Center today at (602) 955-2700.