Eye dilation is a procedure that's sometimes performed as part of an eye examination. Most people will undergo this procedure at some point, as it gives doctors a better view of the eye, but folks often don't know what to expect from it. If that sounds like you, then read this guide to find out exactly what will happen.
Why It's Done
Eye dilation is when the pupil in the center of the eye expands. Your eyes naturally dilate throughout the day as you encounter less light, but at the eye doctor's office, they'll chemically dilate your eyes.
If you've ever heard that saying that the eyes are a window to the soul, then you should understand that the pupil is a window to the rest of the eye. It literally opens up like a window when dilated and allows your eye doctor to look into the eye so that they can see the eye's inner structures. This lets them look for damage and signs of inflammation, which can indicate that something has gone wrong in the eye and further treatment is necessary.
How It's Done
Eye dilation isn't a painful or scary experience to go through. It's as simple as inserting some eye drops.
Prior to your examination, your doctor's medical assistant will bring you to a darkened room and have you sit down. They'll then apply a few eye drops to each eye. This shouldn't sting or hurt at all. It will, however, make your eyes feel a little dried out and sticky after a few minutes. This is normal, so don't worry. It will wear off once the medication wears off.
From there, your eye doctor will use an ophthalmoscope to look inside your eyes. This is also a painless process as nothing will come into contact with your eyes directly.
Once the exam is complete, you're free to go. However, your eyes will remain dilated for a few hours after the examination. As a result, there are some precautions you should take.
First off, wear sunglasses. If you don't have any, ask your eye doctor for a temporary disposable pair. Since your pupils can't constrict, direct exposure to sunlight without sunglasses could seriously damage your eyes. So wear them until nightfall for safety's sake.
Also, consider having someone drive you to and from your appointment if you're going to have your eyes dilated. Some people experience vision blurriness with eye dilation, so it may not be safe for you to drive home.
To learn more about different kinds of eye exams, contact an optometrist.