Why Optometrists Dilate Your Eyes

I recently had an eye exam and the doctor asked me if she could dilate my eyes.  I didn’t want to have to wait for the dilation or keep my contacts out for a few hours, so I said no. Later, I wondered if maybe I should have done the dilation, so I did some research when I got home about dilation during eye exams.

Why Optometrists Dilate Your Eyes

When an optometrist dilates your eyes, the drops used cause your iris (the dark circle in the middle of your eye) to widen. This way, the doctor can see well into the back of your eye.  This perspective allows an optometrist to recognize symptoms of eye conditions like: eye tumors, macular degeneration, retinal detachment or similar problems. Other signs of disease or health problems that can be seen in the eye during dilation include diabetes, high blood pressure or an infectious disease. Dilation can help a doctor detect these problems much sooner and begin treatment, preventing symptoms from worsening.

Do You Have a Choice?

In some states, it’s required that an optometrist dilate a patient’s eyes during an eye exam. In other states, a doctor may recommend that a patient go through with dilation based on their health history, eye health and age. If you’ve had your eyes dilated before and the doctor expressed concern about your eye health, you’ll most likely need to have your eyes dilated again. Most doctors will also discuss the reason for your visit to help determine if dilation is important for you. If you are having problems or experiencing symptoms of disease, your optometrist most likely recommend it.

What To Expect with Dilated Eyes

If you are like me, and you don’t “feel” like you are having any problems, you may request not to have your eyes dilated.  Dilation takes three to four hours to wear off and it can make you more sensitive to bright light and cause blurry vision or problems focusing on close objects.  Not to mention the fact that if you wear contact lenses, you can’t put them back in for a while.

Been a while since you’ve had an eye exam? Dilation might be best for you. Talk to a licensed optometrist, like the one at your closest America’s Best retailer and ask whether or not a full eye exam with dilation may be best for you.

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