Eye exams are a crucial part of maintaining good eye health, this is true. But, many may be confused about how an eye doctor performs an eye exam. What technology and procedures are involved? And how can you be prepared for them?
A big part of any eye exam is the eye dilation. This is where your eye doctor will administer special eye drops that widen your pupils so that they can examine them.
Eye dilation may often be overlooked as a normal part of the eye exam process, but what happens to your eyes when they are dilated? And why is having dilated eyes so important for a successful exam?
Dilation Widens the Pupil
Pupils work to filter the amount of light that enters our eyes be expanding in low light, and contracting in bright light situations.
Dilating eye drops prevent your eye from contracting with the intent of allowing your eye doctor to use a light to examine the back of your eye. Being able to see the back of your eye is a very important part of the eye exam process, as many serious eye conditions can be detected by examining the parts of your eye that are located towards the back of the eye.
Most notably, your eye doctor will examine the retina, macula and the optic nerve.
Conditions Detected by a Dilated Eye Exam
Some of the most serious eye conditions can be detected by a dilated eye exam; here are a few examples.
Diabetic Retinopathy. Leaking or swelling blood vessels in the retina can be clear indicators of this disease.
Glaucoma. The eye doctor will look for any sort of damage to your optic nerve to predict glaucoma.
Age-related Macular Degeneration. An unusual or rapid growth of blood vessels in the macula can be a clear sign of this serious eye condition.
Effects of Dilation Drops
A common question is, ‘how long are my eyes going to be dilated?’ The answer, however, is not very clear-cut.
The duration of dilating eye drops varies from person to person. The average person is affected for in between 4 and 6 hours before their eyes start to return to normal.