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A dilated eye exam is similar to routine eye health exams in the following ways: Both procedures involve you reading an eye chart in order for your optometrist to calculate your prescription and to have a small amount of light beamed into your eyes to ensure your eyes are healthy.

Dilation enables an eye specialist to examine the interior of your eyes. Dilating drops dilate the pupil (the dark area of your eye), preventing it from contracting when your doctor puts a light in it. The expanded pupil enables your doctor to examine the inside of your eye and the rear of your eye using a magnifying lens. They’ll examine the retina, optic nerve, blood vessels and other unseen areas of your eye.

Why Is Eye Dilation Important?

Dilation aids in the diagnosis of a variety of eye diseases, including glaucoma, retinal detachment, retinopathy due to diabetes, and age-related macular degeneration.

Additionally, it aids in the diagnosis of certain chronic disorders that affect more than just your eye, such as hypertension and diabetes. This is because the situations mentioned above can result in alterations to the eye. For instance, high blood pressure may cause damage to the blood vessels in the retina, which are visible only when the pupil of the eye is dilated.

In determining whether eye dilation is necessary for you, your eye doctor may consider:

  • Eye disease risk increases with age. If you’re over 60, the National Eye Institute advises a dilated eye test every year to two.
  • Your ethnicity. Certain eye diseases are more prevalent in certain ethnic groups. Experts in eyeglass frames recommend that Blacks and Hispanics have a dilated eye exam every one to two years beginning at the age of 40.
  • Eye health. History of retinal illnesses, such as retinal detachment, may increase your risk of future eye issues.
  • Health. In general, Diabetes for example increases the risk of eye illness.

What Happens During a Dilated Eye Exam?

The painless process of dilating your pupils can be a little awkward, but it doesn’t last long.

To get the drops they use for the exam, your optometrist will ask you to tilt your head back. Expanding or dilating pupils is stimulated by the use of these drops. An eye doctor may keep your eyelid open briefly in order to get the drops where they need to go, but they understand what they’re doing, and it will be over soon.

Once your pupils have had time to dilate, you will likely have to wait in the waiting area for around 20 to 30 minutes. You will return to the office, where your doctor will inspect your eyes.

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