Dilated Exam

There are a few things you can do to make your visit for a dilated exam comfortable, for a printable dilated exam form please click here:

  1. Plan to have a driver to take you back to home/work from your appointment.

  2. Do not plan any activities after your appointment that requires crisp vision.   

  3. Bring along a pair of dark sunglasses for the ride home.  Do not worry if you forget yours; just ask for a disposable pair as you check out.

The iris is very similar to the shutter of a camera.  When you take a picture on a bright sunny day, the shutter becomes smaller, allowing less light to enter.  Likewise, your pupil becomes smaller when we shine a bright light at your eye, making it very difficult to peer inside.  That's where the dilating drops come in.
Dilating drops work on one of two principles:  they either stimulate the iris muscle that opens the pupil (the dilator), or prevent action of the iris muscle that closes the pupil (the sphincter).  After the drops take effect, your doctor can get a much better view of your retina, optic nerve and vessels in the back of the eye.  This is a very important part of your eye care nd is also needed for some eye surgeries.  From this simple step, we are able to gather a lot of important information about your eyes.  In fact, some systemic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes are first discovered during the dilated eye exam.
Some dilating drops also prevent accommodation, or the adjusting of the eye's focus. The natural lens is able to accommodate until about the age of 40.  Children and young adults are especially good at this, and their ability to accommodate sometimes prevents the doctor from getting an accurate refraction or check for updated eyeglass prescription.  That's why young eyes are often dilated for a "wet" refraction so the doctor can get a true picture of what the child's prescription really is.