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Dilated Eye Exam

Overview

A dilated eye exam lets your eye doctor see the back of your eye (retina). It's usually done as part of a regular eye exam. To do the test, the doctor uses a light and a magnifying tool.

Why is a dilated eye exam done?

This test is done to look for eye problems and eye diseases. It also can be used to find other problems, such as head injuries or brain tumors.

It's usually part of a regular eye exam. You may also have a vision test and a test for glaucoma.

How is a dilated eye exam done?

Tell your doctor if you or anyone in your family has glaucoma. And tell your doctor if you are allergic to any type of eyedrops.

Your doctor will use eyedrops to widen (dilate) your pupils. This makes it easier to see the back of the eye. Your doctor may also use eyedrops to numb the surface of your eyes. It takes about 15 to 20 minutes to fully dilate the pupils.

When your pupils are dilated, your doctor will shine a bright light into your eyes and examine them.

What happens after the test?

  • Your vision will be blurry for several hours.
  • You will probably be able to go home or back to your usual activities right away. But your eyes will be sensitive. Wear sunglasses to protect them from the sun.
  • Do not drive for several hours after your eyes were dilated, unless your doctor says it's okay.

Credits

Current as of: January 24, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine

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