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The Importance Of Dilated Eye Exams

The eye is an extremely amazing and unique organ. In fact, it is the only place in the body where a doctor can see part of the central nervous system—the optic nerve!

What Is A Dilated Eye Exam?

The pupil is the opening in the center of the eye. When your pupil is not dilated, it makes seeing all the way to the back of your eye difficult, limiting your optometrist's ability to truly determine eye health. When dilated, the pupil widens and allows us to see much more than is possible in a normal eye exam, mainly the optic nerve, the retina, and the macula.

To perform a dilated eye exam, optometrists use dilating eye drops that contain medication to enlarge the pupil. During the exam they can detect signs of eye conditions that could potentially lead to vision loss, helping your doctor prevent and treat them as quickly as possible.

What Can Be Diagnosed With A Dilated Eye Exam?

A careful examination of the optic nerve is important for the diagnosis of glaucoma and other diseases. The diagnosis of retinal diseases, such as diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), would be extremely difficult without a dilated eye exam.

Other conditions found during dilated eye exams include retinal tears or detachments and ocular tumors. These exams can even help detect health conditions that affect the whole body—including diabetes and multiple sclerosis.

Who Should Get A Dilated Eye Exam?

The National Eye Institute recommends that individuals who are 60 or older have an annual, comprehensive, dilated eye exam. Studies show that African Americans have a higher risk of glaucoma, so they are recommended to seek annual comprehensive exams beginning at age 40. In addition, children should have their first comprehensive eye examination before the age of three.

What if you are considered in good health, under 40, and wondering if your eyes need a more thorough check? You may not need a comprehensive eye exam every year, however people ages 20-30 should have one every two to three years.

Ensuring Your Health Is Our Goal

Dilated eye exams are important to our vision health because many eye conditions have no early warning signs. We simply don’t know if something’s wrong unless we look. Even if your eyes are considered healthy, get a yearly eye exam and follow your optometrist’s recommendation on how often to get a comprehensive, dilated eye exam. Remember, getting an eye exam can save your vision.

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Top image by Flickr user Nicolas Winspeare used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Author Vision Source — Published February 4, 2016

Posted In Eye Health Awareness