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What to Expect at Your Comprehensive Dilated Eye Exam

As you age, your risk of retinal eye diseases and reduced visual acuity increases. More than 12 million Americans over the age of 40 have some degree of vision impairment, and millions have eye diseases such as retinopathy, macular degeneration, glaucoma, and cataracts. As with many health conditions, eye diseases are insidious — developing gradually, and not causing problems until your vision is permanently impaired. 

Our expert ophthalmologists here at the Retina Specialists provide comprehensive dilated eye exams at our offices in Dallas, DeSoto, Plano, Mesquite, and Waxahachie, Texas. These thorough eye exams help us diagnose eye diseases in their earliest stages. 

What to expect during your comprehensive dilated eye exam

A comprehensive dilated eye exam includes a standard eye exam with some extra testing. After you check in with our friendly office staff, you can expect:

Visual acuity tests

Your visual acuity is how well you see with and without corrective lenses. We test both of your eyes, individually and together. You read the letters on a Snellen eye chart. If you need corrective lenses, we also offer refraction to identify the precise corrective lens prescription you need for 20/20 vision.

Visual field test

During a visual field test, we evaluate your peripheral (side) vision. We check how well you can see objects in your side vision without moving your eyes. 

Eye muscle function

During your eye muscle function test, we move an object or our hand in front of your face and ask you to track it with your eyes. We watch your eyes move and look for any signs of weakness or tightness that could interfere with your vision. 

Slit-lamp exam

A slit lamp is a binocular microscope that allows us to examine the fronts and insides of your eyes. The device provides a magnified view of your cornea, conjunctiva, iris, and lens. The slit-lamp also allows us to look at your retina and optic nerve.

Pupil response test

We also evaluate the responsiveness of your pupils. Your pupils widen and shrink to control the amount of light that enters your eye and should react rapidly to allow you to maintain clear vision when moving between dark and light environments.


Tonometry allows us to check the pressure inside your eyeball. Noncontact tonometry shoots a puff of air at your eye, and the equipment measures your eye’s response to estimate the pressure. If you have an abnormal reading with noncontact tonometry, we can also numb your eye and gently touch it with a probe to get a more accurate response.


Finally, we put drops in your eyes to dilate (widen) your pupil. The drops take 20-30 minutes to take effect. When your pupils are fully dilated, we use the slit lamp to examine your retina and the back of your eye in more detail. When your pupils are dilated, we can get a broader view of the inside of your eye, which can help us spot signs of eye disease. 

What to expect after your comprehensive dilated eye exam

Your pupils will stay dilated for a few hours after your eye exam. You should bring sunglasses to wear after your appointment and have a friend or family member drive you home, as your vision may be blurry. You might get a mild headache while your pupils are dilated. Many patients choose to take a nap after their dilated eye exam, allowing the drops to wear off. 

Comprehensive dilated eye exams are the best way to diagnose and treat eye diseases as early as possible. If you’re due for an eye exam, call one of our offices to schedule your comprehensive dilated eye exam today.

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