Many people assume that their eyes are healthy but a visit to an eye care professional for a dilated eye exam can be the only proof. During this procedure, the professional closely examines each eye to identify any signs of eye disease and visions problems, many of which hardly have any early warning signs.
Dilation is important because it helps the ophthalmologist view the inside of your eye. Eye drops are put in each eye to dilate the pupil to give the professional a wider view of the macular and optic nerve. The eyedrops take about 15-30 minutes to dilate the pupils fully, depending on an individuals response to medication and can take up to 4-6 hours to clear off. Dilation increases light sensitivity as the pupil is large and more light is passing through it. Once the pupil is dilated, a special magnifying lens that gives a clear view of the optic nerve, the macula, and retina.
Conditions Diagnosed with a Dilated Eye Exam
Diabetic retinopathy is a diabetic eye disease that is most common and a top cause of blindness in the United States. If a person is suffering from this condition, the exam may reveal swelling or leaking blood vessels in the retina. Another symptom that may be seen is the abnormal growth of blood vessels in the retina.
Age-related Macular Degeneration
AMD is a condition that is one of the leading causes of blindness in people with an age of over 50 years. A dilated eye exam may reveal yellow deposits (drusen) or pigment clumps beneath the retina. Age-related macular degeneration leads to deterioration of the macula which is responsible for sharp, central vision.
Glaucoma is an optic nerve damage-causing disease. The optic nerve relays information to the brain from the eyes. A dilated eye exam will show changes in the shape and color of the optic nerve fibers in people with glaucoma. Another symptom that can be identified through this exam is the excessive cupping of the optic disc. The optic disk serves as an exit point of the optic nerve fibers from the eyes and an entry point to the brain.
The Frequency of having a Dilated Eye Exam
It is recommended that every person that is over 50 years of age go for an annual comprehensive dilated eye exam. There is an exception for African-Americans who should go for a dilated eye exam at the age of 40. The reason for this is that they are at a more risk of glaucoma.
Diabetic patients similarly have specific recommendations. Type 1 diabetic patients should have their first eye exam within five years of being diagnosed. For Type 2 diabetes, the recommended time for an eye exam is on the date of diagnosis. In the case of a diabetic woman considering pregnancy, it is recommended to see an optometrist before conception or in the first trimester.
Dilated eye exam is an import part of a comprehensive eye exam. The reason for this is that the exam will reveal the condition of your macular, retina and optic nerve. It will also help in preventing and treating eye conditions that can lead to blindness.