How dilation of the pupil helps eye doctors to detect and treat problems

A considerable number of eye patients do not understand why optometrists dilate their eyes. Dilation is a common procedure used by eye doctors to examine the inside of the eye better. It involves use of eye drops that enlarge the pupil. While the optometrist can determine the right glasses for a patient without dilating the eye, the procedure allows the professional to examine the overall health of the eyes.

For the doctor to settle on dilation, there are a number of indications that imply the need for it. Some of these indications include: Sudden blurred or lost vision, light flashes, history of cataract surgery, glaucoma, diabetes mellitus, previous retinal detachment, degeneration, or any other retinal disease, abnormal responses of the papillary to light and inexplicable headaches.

It is important for new eye patients to be dilated so that abnormal presentations such as degeneration can be spotted early. That is why optometrists insist on dilating the pupil to ensure early detection and treatment of existing problems. This reduces the risk of severe loss of vision.

During the exam, the optometrist will put some special drops in the eye. Two types of eye drops are used. One causes muscles that enlarge the pupil to contract, such as phenylephrine. The other type relaxes muscles that make the pupil to constrict. The two types are used together most of the time and can sometimes be given through spraying. Relaxing of the focusing muscles of the eye enables the doctor to make an accurate measurement of refractive error especially in children. This causes the pupil to widen. It takes about 20 minutes before the drops take effect. The optometrist is able to see more of the retina. This eye exam can reveal signs of high blood pressure and diabetes.

It is recommended that everyone should have a eye dilation test every year. There are, however, many factors that may require a person to have dilation tests more often. Age and a history of eye diseases are among those factors.

Why do Optometrist dilate eyes:

1. Eye exam thoroughness – Even the most experienced optometrists cannot view a good part of the eye without dilating the pupil. Using dilating eye drops, the doctor is able to have a thorough exam of the eye’s interior. This allows him to assess a vast range of ocular and systematic disorders.

2. Early detection of disorders – Significant degrees of farsightedness and lazy eye (amblyopia) lead to visual problems especially in young children. Dilation increases the chances of detecting such problems and ensures that the patients do not miss more.

3. Ambiguous descriptions – Some patients, including young children cannot give a clear verbal description of their problem. Dilation really helps the doctor to screen for possible irregularities.

Dilating eye drops are also used to treat some eye diseases, like inflammation and amblyopia.

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