Do you have severe myopia or diabetes? Perhaps you’re over the age of 50, have a family history of retinal detachment or previously experienced some type of eye trauma? If so, your optometrist may recommend you undergo a dilated eye exam. Here’s what you should know about this diagnostic tool.
What it’s for
The purpose of this test is to give your optometrist a better view of your retina, which is a thin layer of tissue that lines the back of your eyes. A dilated eye exam is used to help prevent vision loss by detecting eye conditions such as a torn or detached retina.
What to expect
Your optometrist will begin the procedure by administering a few drops of medication into each eye. The drops will cause certain eye muscles to relax and your pupils to become dilated. Once the drops take effect, after about 20 to 30 minutes, your optometrist will examine your retinas using specialized equipment.
It usually takes four to six hours for the medication to wear off. In the meantime, your eyes will be extremely sensitive to light and you may experience blurry vision. Therefore, you should wear sunglasses and avoid driving after the exam.
What to watch for
Detecting a torn or detached retina early can help prevent vision loss. Common symptoms include:
• The sudden appearance of drifting spots in your vision, called floaters
• Gradually reduced peripheral vision
• Blurry or dim vision
If you experience any of these symptoms, consult your optometrist immediately. There are several treatments available to repair a torn or detached retina, including surgery. The best course of care will depend on the severity of the damage.