When it’s time for your yearly eye appointment, your eye doctor may talk with you about getting your eyes dilated. While eye dilation doesn’t hurt and is an important part of regular eye care, it can be a pain. Your eyes may be sensitive to light after the procedure, and you may want to bring someone with you to drive you home after your appointment. Here, we’ll take a look at why eye dilation matters, and how often you actually need to have the procedure.
What Is Eye Dilation?
During eye dilation, your eye doctor will place special drops in your eyes that allow the pupil to open, providing a unique view into the inner workings of your eye. A few minutes after the drops are in your eyes, your pupils will open, allowing your doctor to check the health of your retina and optic nerve.. This can alert your doctor to changes in your health and provide early detection of certain eye conditions.
What Can Eye Dilation Detect?
There are many conditions detected by eye dilation, including glaucoma, retinal detachment, certain infectious diseases, diabetes, cancer, and more.
Do You Need Dilation?
You may be tempted to skip the dilation process at your annual eye appointment. If you’re just seeing your eye doctor for a prescription change, it’s likely that you don’t need to have your eyes dilated. When you’re seeing your eye doctor for your annual checkup, however, it’s important that you follow their recommendation on whether you need to have your eyes dilated. The process becomes especially important as you get older and become more susceptible to certain eye conditions.
Post-Dilation Eye Care
As mentioned, you may want to bring someone with you to drive you home from your appointment after you have your eyes dilated. It’s a simple safety issue: when your eyes are letting in more light than normal, issues that are easily remedied by your changing pupil size (such as glare on the road) can make driving more difficult. Even if you can make it home safely, driving is likely to be uncomfortable.
If you’re able, it’s a smart move to take the afternoon off from work. Staring at a screen, or even sitting in a bright conference room, can be uncomfortable and cause headaches. If you’re not able to take time off, you may want to ask your boss about working in a dim room or being excused from in-person meetings as your eyes get back to normal.