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Preparing for a Dilated Eye Exam

Routine eye exams are the best way to ensure that your eyes are healthy and that you see as clearly as possible. Depending on your age or risk of eye disease, you might need a dilated eye exam every year, or every other year, so your ophthalmologist can examine your retina and the insides of your eyes in closer detail. 

Our team of expert ophthalmologists offers comprehensive dilated eye exams at our Retina Specialists offices in Dallas, DeSoto, Plano, Mesquite, and Waxahachie, Texas. These exams are critical to our ability to diagnose and treat retinal disease. 

What is a dilated eye exam?

During a dilated eye exam, we use medicated eye drops to open your pupils. Dilating your pupils allows us to see inside each eye to examine your retina, macula, optic nerve, and vitreous in detail. We might use additional tests, including optical coherence tomography (OCT) or fluorescein angiography, if we find evidence of an eye disease, such as retinopathy.

Eye dilation isn't standard practice for a routine eye exam, but you should still have this more thorough eye exam occasionally, regardless of your risk level. 

Why would I need a dilated eye exam?

There are a few reasons we might suggest you have a dilated eye exam. First, as you age, your risk of eye diseases increases. We recommend that patients over the age of 60 have a dilated eye exam at least every other year. 

We also assess your risk of eye disease and recommend dilated eye exams if you have a high degree of myopia (nearsightedness) or health problems, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. 

How to prepare for your dilated eye exam

While a dilated eye exam isn't invasive, your vision will be blurry for a few hours, so you should take a few steps to prepare for your safety and comfort. 

Allow a little more time than usual

The dilating eye drops can take up to 30 minutes to take effect, so your appointment is long enough to accommodate that step. Additionally, we need more time to complete any other testing. 

Bring sunglasses

In addition to having blurry vision, your eyes are much more sensitive to light when your pupils are wide open. Bring sunglasses to protect your eyes afterward, as even indoor light might cause discomfort. 

Ask a friend to give you a lift

Your eyes remain dilated for between 4-6 hours, so you need a friend or family member to drive you to and from your appointment. Between the blurry vision and light sensitivity, driving yourself is unsafe after a dilated eye exam.

Don't schedule any activities after your exam

Many of our patients go home and lie down after a dilated eye exam. The exam doesn't hurt, but the blurry vision can feel disorienting or cause a temporary, mild headache. Resting in a dim room or taking a nap gives your eyes a chance to return to normal.

Here at Retina Specialists, we're committed to providing expert diagnosis and treatments to protect your eye health and vision. If you need a dilated eye exam, give our closest office a call today.

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