Posted by & filed under Eye Health.

Do we have to dilate your eyes?  The answer is usually always “yes” and here’s why:

Dilation allows the pupil (the dark part of your eye) to open and stay open when the doctor is shinning a bright light into your eye.  There are several important parts of the eye that are located in the back of the eye that should be monitored on a yearly basis.  The retina contains all of our photoreceptors and allows us to see and perceive light.  The macula is the center of the retina and is responsible for our central vision and fine detail.  The optic nerve transmits all this information to the brain that tells us what we are seeing.  There are many diseases that can affect these important parts of our eyes, and if they go undetected and untreated, can cause permanent vision impairment and even blindness.  Additionally, there are many systemic diseases, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, that can be diagnosed through a dilated comprehensive eye exam.  View this video by the National Eye Institute on what your doctor actually sees when your eyes are dilated.

dilated eye exam

Dilated eye exam

We all know dilation is inconvenient, blurs our vision, and makes us sensitive to the sunlight.  We advise to bring your sunglasses to your appointment, but we also provide all of our patients with disposable wrap-around sun protection after dilation.  Dilation usually lasts 4-6 hours, depending on the color of your eyes.  Lighter eyes, such as blue and green, tend to be dilated longer than people with brown eyes.  Even though dilation makes our vision blurry, it usually just affects our near reading and computer vision.  Most patients are able to safely drive themselves home after their appointment.  If you are someone who works on a computer or reads small print all day for work, you may want to schedule your dilated eye exam towards the end of the day or on one of our available Saturdays.

It is important to have yearly dilated eye exams, especially if you have diabetes, a family history of eye disease, or are over the age of 40.  If you would like to schedule an appointment, please call us at 913.341.3100 or email us your request.