Why Dilation is Used During an Eye Exam

  • By:Dr. Katie Dugan

Visiting an eye doctor for an exam is unlike anything experienced in other medical offices. Special tools are used to check your vision and evaluate the overall health of your eyes. Certain techniques might be used to examine all areas of your eye, such as dilation for a retinal exam. While this practice has been common in the past, new technology has made it possible to evaluate the health of the retina without the need to put dilation drops in your eyes.

What is Eye Dilation?

The pupil is located in the center of the eye, and it opens and closes based on the amount of light exposure in the moment. When the pupil is not dilated, it can be difficult for an optometrist to see in the back of the eye. As a result, overall eye health evaluations can be difficult during the examination.

Dilation is the process of adding medicated eye drops that causes the pupil to widen. When the pupils are open, it is possible to see the retina, optic nerve, and macula. This process is designed to help with early diagnosis so the right treatment plan can be implemented in the early stages of eye disease.

Dilation vs. Retinal Imaging

The practice of dilation was commonly used in the past, but some optometrists are now moving to better systems for diagnosis. Technology makes it possible to gain clear imaging of the retina, without the need to use dilation drops. Retinal imaging uses technology that scans the eyes, then creates digital images of the retinas. It is a non-invasive process that can be used to detect a variety of health conditions, including macular degeneration, hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, glaucoma, stroke risk, ocular melanoma, and more.

Even though retinal imaging can often be used, there are still times when it might be necessary to use dilation drops in an eye exam. Your optometrist will evaluate your situation and provide recommendations that match your needs.

Is it time for you to schedule an eye exam? Our team is here to help. Contact our Temecula office at (951) 302-1331 or the Murrieta office at (951) 600-9226.

Posted in: Eye Exams