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The importance of pupil dilation at an eye exam and why we do them.



You might wonder why your Optometrist sometimes needs to dilate your pupils during an eye exam? Maybe you are curious to find out what the difference between a dilated and undilated eye exam is? Well we are here to give you all the details, so that you can better understand the purpose of pupil dilation at an eye exam and how it can benefit you and your eye health in the long term.


At Direct Eyecare our Optometrists believe that a pupil dilation at an eye exam is vital for patients who are experiencing eye problems, have experienced certain eye problems in the past or are of an ethnicity that is genetically prone to eye diseases. If you fall into any of these categories then you are probably used to having an eye exam where the Optometrist will dilate your pupils using drops.


So what is involved in an eye exam where your pupils are dilated using drops?

Pupil dilation during an eye exam is performed by inserting drops into the eye, to purposely increase the size of the pupil, so that the Optometrist can fully examine the health of the optic nerve and the retina. It is a crucial part of the eye exam as it can prevent and treat sight threatening eye conditions.


How long does it take to fully dilate the pupil?

It typically takes between 15-30 minutes for the drops to take effect, but this does depend on the individual persons response.


How long would an individual's pupil remain dilated for?

The pupil dilation could typically take between 4-6 hours to wear off.


What side effects could you experience due to having your pupils dilated?

You would usually have an increase in light sensitivity due to the fact your pupil is allowing more light to enter your eye. You may also experience some blurred vision following your appointment, this is why we do not suggest driving to and from your appointment or if you are unsteady on your feet it would be benefical to bring someone with you to help.


What conditions can be detected during an eye exam where your pupils have been dilated?

Glaucoma, Macular degeneration, retinal tear or retinal detachment are just some of the conditions that can be detected.


Can I have the dilation eye drops during Ramadan? Will it break my fast?

According to The Muslim Council of Britain, your fast will be broken only if an 'agent of consequence' (a substance with nutritional or medical benefit) reaches the throat, stomach, intestines' or any cavity that has a pathway and settles there. This does not apply to eye drops, ear drops, injections and blood tests.



At Direct Eyecare we would usually tell you in advance if you would require pupil dilation during your sight test, we would warn you about the blurred vision following the appointment and advise you to bring sunglasses to shade your eyes after the appointment.


If you have any queries regarding such eye exams, feel free to give us a call and our friendly team would be happy to help and answer any questions you may have.


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