Picture of a dilated pupil

Our mission at River City Eye Care is to ensure your optimal vision and health. That’s why we employ various diagnostic tools and techniques throughout the examination process. Among these tools, eye dilation can play a pivotal role in comprehensive eye examinations.

Understanding Eye Dilation

During your eye exam, your optometrist may want to use dilating eye drops to enlarge your pupils. These drops allow your optometrist to conduct a more thorough examination of the eye’s internal structures. Think of your pupil as the window the optometrist looks through to see inside your eye. The active ingredients in dilation drops temporarily relax the muscles in the iris (the coloured part of the eye). It typically takes 15-30 minutes for eye dilation drops to take effect. Dilated eyes provide a wider view of the retina and other critical components. 

Will I Be Dilated During My Eye Exam?

While not every exam includes eye dilation, your optometrist is more likely to require eye dilation drops if you have a medical history of:

  • Diabetic Retinopathy: People with diabetes are at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy, a condition that damages the blood vessels in the retina. Regular eye exams with dilation are essential for early detection and management.
  • Glaucoma: Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that can lead to optic nerve damage and vision loss. Dilated eye exams help us monitor changes in the optic nerve and assess the progression of the disease.
  • Macular Degeneration: Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of vision loss in older adults. Dilated eye exams are necessary for detecting changes in the macula, the central part of the retina responsible for sharp central vision.
  • Retinal Detachment: Retinal detachment is a medical emergency where the retina pulls away from its normal position. Dilated eye exams help in identifying any signs of retinal tears or detachment.
  • Cataracts: Cataracts can cause blurry vision that may necessitate dilation for a thorough examination of the retina and other structures of the eye.
  • Uveitis: Uveitis is inflammation of the uvea, the middle layer of the eye. Dilated eye exams are crucial for assessing the extent of inflammation and monitoring for complications such as macular edema or glaucoma.

Early Detection of Diseases

Eye dilation is crucial for identifying and managing a range of eye diseases and conditions. By dilating the eyes, optometrists can better spot signs of glaucoma, cataracts, and other conditions. Early detection allows for timely intervention and thus ensures optimal eye health.

The eyes are like windows to one’s overall health. Your optometrist can gain insights into your systemic health by examining the blood vessels in the retina. Conditions like hypertension and diabetes often manifest in the eyes, and dilation helps us identify these signs early on, prompting appropriate referrals and collaboration with other healthcare professionals.

Photo of an optometrist conducting a

Eye Dilation For Children

Dilating eye drops are often used in routine eye exams for younger children to allow the optometrist to obtain a more precise prescription. This is called a “cycloplegic refraction”. Children often unconsciously over-focus their eyes during examination, making it difficult to accurately measure refractive errors like nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism. Dilating drops temporarily reduce the eye’s ability to change focus, providing a more accurate representation of the child’s prescription.

Side Effects of Dilation Eye Drops

The side effects induced by dilation eye drops are temporary. Symptoms typically last around 3 to 6 hours. People with dilated eyes may experience sensitivity to light and difficulty focusing on close objects due to their enlarged pupils. If you know that you will be dilated during your upcoming eye exam, you should have someone accompany you who can drive you home after your appointment. If you have a pair, bring sunglasses! Sunglasses help reduce discomfort from light sensitivity. 

Stay Up-To-Date on Your Eye Health

Getting an eye exam is an integral part of maintaining good eye health. Book this year’s comprehensive eye exam with us today to ensure you’re getting the most out of your vision!