Eye-Dilation-Process Pupil dilation during an eye exam is very important at revealing the status of your optic nerve and retina, and it is critical to preventing and treating eye conditions that could potentially lead to vision loss.

What is the dilation process?

The dilation process involves enlarging the pupil of the patient’s eye. Doctors do this by administering special eye drops (mydriatics). Once your doctor puts in the dilating drops, it takes about 20–30 minutes for your pupils to fully open, or dilate. After your eyes are fully dilated, the effects will last for four to six hours for most people. By dilating the eye, the doctor is able to get a better view of the inner part of the eye, into the retina and vitreous. Dilation makes it easier for eye doctors to detect things like tumors, degenerations, detachment, and other health-related concerns.

Why do optometrists prefer dilation?

The necessity of eye dilation during an exam typically depends on the reason for your exam, your age, your overall health, and your risk of eye diseases. It is known as one of the best options to allow doctors to see a whole view of the eye.

Detecting Diseases

Health issues like diabetes increase the risk of getting an eye infection or other diseases. Early detection is key with the use of mydriatics and dilation. Your eye doctor can discover potential health-related issues through a dilated exam such as the following:

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Macular Degeneration
  • Retinal Detachment
  • Glaucoma
  • Diabetes

Your Age or Ethnic Background

The risk of eye diseases increases with age. If you are 60 years or older, the National Institutes of Health recommends having a yearly dilated eye exam. African-Americans and Hispanics, are advised to have a dilated eye exam every one to two years, after the age of 40 due to increased risk of glaucoma.

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