Trust us, we know that some of you dread having your eyes dilated. And we appreciate that after effects of pupil dilation can be inconvenient. However, it is essential for not only your eye health, but your overall health as well.
Here comes some quick eyeball anatomy. The iris is the colored part of your eye. The pupil is the black circle in the center of your iris that changes size depending on the amount of light present. The pupil is actually an aperture in your iris that regulates the amount of visible light that enters the back of your eye. Dilation works by stimulating the iris muscles to widen your pupil and/or inhibiting the muscles that usually constrict your pupil. This is accomplished by giving you an eye drop. When your pupil is dilated or widened, we can use our eye doctor instruments to see much more of the structures in the very back of your eye. This includes your retina, vitreous, and optic nerve.
After dilation, you can expect to feel more sensitive to sunlight and experience some blurred near vision. How long the symptoms will last vary from patient to patient but usually lasts two to four hours. Bringing a pair of sunglasses to your exam is recommended but if you forget, we have disposable sunglasses for you to use. Most patients feel comfortable driving after having their pupils dilated but others prefer to bring a driver with them.
They say that your eyes are the windows to your soul, but they are so much more than that! There are many conditions that can cause ocular problems. These conditions include cataracts, glaucoma, retinal detachments, vitreous detachments, macular degeneration and many more. Some of these conditions you may not even know that you had, and can only be viewed through a dilated pupil. Many eye diseases cause symptoms that you’ll notice but others do not and need to be found by having a thorough eye examination including dilation.
There are also a number of systemic conditions that may be discovered during a dilated eye examination. This includes diabetes, high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis, high cholesterol, tumors, and more.
How often we dilate your eyes depends on a number of factors. Typically, we recommend a dilated eye exam for all new patients. The frequency of repeat dilations depends on a number of factors, such as your age, your prescription, family history of eye disease, your symptoms, and more.
At Columbia Eye Consultants Optometry we utilize wide field scanning retinal photography to assist in visualizing, inspecting, and documenting the back of your eye. We will review these images with you at your exam and go over any areas of concern. Studies show that using this technology, along with regular eye dilation, results in the highest level of pathology detection. However, we firmly believe that panoramic imaging is not a replacement for eye dilation. These images, although very helpful (and cool) do not allow the same degree of detail, contour, and field of view as a dilated exam. Therefore, our stance on the subject is that wide field retinal imaging is an adjunct to but NOT a replacement for dilation.
For any questions regarding pupil dilation, including if you will be dilated at your next visit, feel free to phone our office anytime and ask.