Why a Dilated Eye Exam is Important to Your Health
Have you ever wondered why your eye doctor dilates your eyes for an exam?
Dilation is an important tool in the diagnosis of eye disease.
When your eye is dilated, the pupil remains open wide so that the doctor can examine the back of the eye. The widened pupil permits more light to enter the eye, so the doctor can see more clearly. This larger opening also allows a wider area of the back of the eye to be seen.
Many eye diseases have no early warning signs, so a dilated exam is vital for early diagnosis and treatment. Annual dilated exams are especially important for patients with increased risk for glaucoma and patients who are diabetic.
What the doctor sees:
During a dilated exam, Dr. Scott inspects the retina, the macula and the optic nerve using a special magnifying lens. This examination can detect early signs of disease such as:
- Glaucoma – warning signs of glaucoma can be found in changes in the shape and color of the optic nerve fibers. Inspection of the optic disc may show cupping, which is another sign of glaucoma.
- Macular Degeneration – abnormal growth of blood vessels underneath the retina may indicate macular issues. The appearance of yellow deposits, called drusen, can also be an early sign that treatment may be required.
- Diabetic Retinopathy – your eye doctor may make the initial diagnosis of diabetes after they do a retinal exam. Swelling or leaking of the blood vessels in the eye are signs of diabetic retinopathy.
What to Expect:
Once the dilating drops are instilled, it will take a few minutes for the effect to take place. You may notice that you become more light sensitive and that you have difficulty focusing on objects up close.
We cannot predict how long you will remain dilated, or how sensitive you will be to the drops. However, you may feel more comfortable having someone drive you home after your eyes are dilated.
If you have any questions before or after a dilated eye exam or procedure, be sure to speak with Dr. Scott or any member of our staff.
If you would like more information, the National Eye Institute has a narrated video of a dilated exam. Click here to view this video. Dilated Exam Video Photo above: courtesy NEI.
We care about your vision and want you to see your best. Dr. Scott uses the latest technology to give you the best eye care possible.