Pupil Dilation: Open Your Eyes to a Better Health

What is dilation of your eyes?
To dilate your eyes, your optometrist uses drops to cause your pupils, the black spots which are openings, to enlarge. With your pupils dilated, your optometrist has a better opportunity to examine the inside of your eyes.

Who should have their pupils dilated?
If you are a patient new to a practice or have a personal or family history of eye health problems, your optometrist may suggest dilating your eyes. Certain conditions may increase your risk for eye health problems. For example, if you are diabetic or highly nearsighted, your optometrist may recommend a dilated examination. Your age and other factors may also indicate to your doctor that dilation is needed.

Who should not have their pupils dilated?
Based on your current and past health, any allergies you might have or any medication you may be taking, your optometrist will determine if your eyes should not be dilated. Be sure to tell your doctor about any allergies, reactions to drugs or health problems you have had.

What drugs are used to dilate?
Drugs called mydriatics are used, the specific type and strength depending on your own individual needs.

How long does dilation take?
The current drugs used to dilate are fast-acting. Dilation usually occurs in 20 to 45 minutes.

How long will it last?
With some exceptions, the effects usually last from four to six hours.

Are there drops available to help reverse the dilation effects more rapidly?
Yes. Dr. Reeves offers this convenience to all her patients over the age of 18.

What does the doctor see?
Imagine looking into a room through a partially opened door. You only see a portion of the room. But if the door is open wide, you can see much more of the room. By enlarging the pupil and using certain instruments, your doctor is able to see more of the structures inside your eye. If you have certain signs or symptoms, the doctor will have a better chance of detecting their cause by seeing more of the inside of your eye. This is especially true if the disease or condition is located peripherally along the side of your eye.

What are the side effects, if any?
Most people encounter few, if any, side effects. Dilation may cause you to experience glare, some sensitivity to light and some blurring of your near vision and may affect your ability to drive. If you are uncomfortable about this, arrange for someone to come along with you to drive you home.

Just a reminder
To reduce problems with light sensitivity and glare following dilation, bring along a pair of sunglasses. If you wear contact lenses, bring your backup glasses; your doctor may want you to wear them until dilation has worn off.

Dilation can lead to healthier eyes
Dilation can help your optometrist tell if your eyes are healthy. Dilation is very safe and its unlikely that you will experience much inconvenience or discomfort. Dilation, when needed, provides you with the most thorough eye health examination possible. You and your eyes will be healthier for it.