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Why do I need a dilated eye exam?

dilated eye ecam

All About Eyes: Ask an Optometrist

By Judith Archibold, O.D.

You might think that because your vision is fine your eyes are, therefore, also healthy. But visiting your eye doctor for a comprehensive dilated eye exam is the only way to be absolutely certain. During your dilated eye exam both of your eyes will be examined for any signs of vision problems and/or eye diseases, such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic eye disease and cataracts. The dilated eye exam is a very important part of preventive eye care.

In order to dilate your eyes, we use special drops. The dilation eye drops take approximately 15 to 30 minutes to begin working. However, if a patient has a serious eye disease, such as glaucoma, and is taking medication, their eyes may take up to an hour to dilate. Once your pupils are dilated, your eye doctor will then look in with a bright light and use special instruments to see various parts of the eye. You’ll be asked to look up, down, left and right while the exam is being performed. This allows your eye doctor to see completely inside your eye, including the macula, retina, blood vessels and optic nerve.

With your pupils dilated, you may be sensitive to light and find it difficult to focus on nearby objects. Additionally, your vision may be blurry. These side effects can last for up to several hours.

When having a dilated comprehensive eye exam, keep in mind these tips:

  • Allow plenty of time for your comprehensive eye exam appointment. Remember that it can take 30 minutes for the eye drops to dilate healthy eyes and even longer if you have an eye disease.
  • Bring dark sunglasses with you to minimize light sensitivity when you leave your eye doctor’s office.
  • We advise our patients to make arrangements to have someone drive them after their appointment.

About Ophthalmic Consultants of the Capital Region

Dr. Judith Archibold is an optometrist at Ophthalmic Consultants of the Capital Region, a multi-specialty, ophthalmology, optometry, and eye-surgery practice with five locations: Albany, Clifton Park, Schenectady, Schodack, and TroyCall our office today to schedule an appointment at 777-2777, or visit myoccr.com.