In order to really determine the health of your eyes, eye care professionals will typically conduct a comprehensive dilated eye exam. One of the first parts of the exam will be a test of your vision and a measurement of your prescription. The eye care professional will also most likely examine your eye’s responses to light prior to dilation to determine whether your visual pathways are functioning properly.
The view of the back of the eye is very limited when the pupil is not allowing light into the eye, which is where dilation comes into the picture. In order to see the entire retina and optic nerve, the pupil must be dilated using special eye drops. It takes about 15-30 minutes to dilate, and about 4-6 hours to wear off. Dilation widens the pupil, allowing more light to reach the back of the eye so that the eye care professional may fully examine the eye’s health.
Dilation will increase your sensitivity to light, so be sure to bring your sunglasses! Some patients also experience blurry vision, which is completely normal. Most patients usually do not feel comfortable driving under these conditions so a friend or companion to drive you home after the exam is highly recommended.