Your average eye exam goes beyond the basics. Even with that, there is often the need for more. By more, we mean dilation. Not every eye exam requires that we dilate your pupils. However, we may recommend it at some point. If you have never had your eyes dilated, undergoing this exam may feel unsettling. Here, we will discuss why we may want to dilate your eyes, and why you will be glad we did.
What Dilation Means
It is the pupils of the eye that dilate, or get larger. They also get smaller, depending on the amount of light present wherever you are. In a dark room, your pupils will enlarge. In bright sunlight, they constrict. When the pupils are more open, we can also see more. For that reason, dilation makes perfect sense when we want a good look around the various structures at the back of the eye.
What to Expect
Dilating the eyes is easy. All we do is insert special eye drops. When we do, your eyes may sting a little, but this should not be uncomfortable. Think about when you have gone swimming, or when your eyes become dry after sitting at your computer too long. That’s about what it feels like to have your eyes dilated. Additionally, your eyes are likely to become very sensitive to light, because the pupils are letting every bit of it in. For this reason, you will probably wear sunglasses for a few hours after your exam, even indoors.
Why . . .
Why would we want to look at the structures all throughout your eye? Because some of the most concerning eye conditions develop in areas that aren’t usually seen during a routine exam. A comprehensive eye exam is a great way to detect the earliest signs of conditions such as:
Diabetic retinopathy. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, your eye doctor will want to examine the blood vessels around the retina at least once a year. This is because these tiny vessels may leak under pressure, and may become weak due to poor proliferation.
This group of diseases is concerning due to the potential for vision loss. Observing the optic nerve fibers allows us to assess the early onset of glaucoma, which may present as cupping in the area where fibers transition from eyes to brain.
Age-related macular degeneration. The macula is made up of a number of cells that create a layer within the retina. For the eye to function properly, these cells must be regenerated continually. Abnormal clumping of pigment in the macula tells us we may want to test further, and develop a plan to manage macular degeneration.
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Posted in: Eye Health