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Why is a Pupil Dilation Test Important for You?

The eye is a complex organ. One that requires routine care, including a thorough comprehensive eye exam. One of the first parts of an eye exam includes a test of your vision, perhaps to determine changes in your eyesight or an eyeglass prescription. In addition, the doctor may perform what is called a pupil dilation test. This painless test is utilized to increase the size of the pupils so the doctor can view the entire retina. Learn more about the pupil dilation test as well other parts of the exam below.

What is a Pupil Dilation Test?

A pupil dilation test is a test that an eye doctor performs to see the deeper parts of the eye. Specifically, the eye doctor is assessing the health of the optic nerve, macula and retina. In order to see these areas of the eye, a doctor must dilate the pupil. The pupil dilation test is very important because it can help catch and treat eye disorders that can lead to blindness.

What Does An Eye Exam Entail?

The two major parts of a comprehensive eye exam include the the undilated exam and the dilated eye exam. Here’s everything you need to know about each exam:

The Undilated Exam

pupil dilation test feature

In order to see the entire retina clearly, an eye doctor will dilate the pupil by placing special drops in each eye.

The undilated eye exam checks visual acuity, visual field testing, and pupil response to light and tonometry. A visual acuity test assesses how well you can see. Your doctor will ask you to read letters both up close and far away. The next part of the exam, the visual acuity test, will assess how well you see objects off to the side, or the periphery. Your doctor will hold an object off to the side and ask if you see it for this part of the exam.

The pupil response test checks how well your eyes react to light. Your doctor will use a small light and shine it in your eyes to see how the pupils react to the light. Finally, tonometry is a measure of the pressure in the eyes. Your doctor will measure the pressure to make sure there is no indication of an eye disorder called Glaucoma.

The Dilated Exam

Your doctor will perform the dilated eye exam by placing special drops in the eye to increase the size of the pupil. It takes between 15-30 minutes for the medication to work.

Is a Pupil Dilation Test a Good Idea?

The short answer is yes. Eye doctors perform this special test in order to catch any early warning signs of diseases that can cause blindness. Such eye diseases include Glaucoma, Macular Degeneration and Diabetic Retinopathy to name a few. If caught early, these diseases can be treated.

Who Should Have a Pupil Dilation Test?

This depends. In general, you should have a dilated eye exam if you are over the age of 60. Or, if there is a family history of Glaucoma. In addition, if you are an African American over the age of 40 you should have a dilated eye exam (due to increased risk of Glaucoma).

How Long Will Pupils Stay Dilated?

After performing the pupil dilation test, the pupils will stay dilated for 4-6 hours.

What to Expect After the Test

After your pupils have been dilated, you may experience a couple of temporary side effects. For example, you may notice some blurred vision while trying to read. You may also notice that your eyes are more sensitive to light since having the pupil dilation test performed. However, this is normal as dilated pupils allow more light to get in. Wearing sunglasses may help if you notice this. However, these side effects are temporary and will go away after the dilation wears off.

Get Your Eyes Checked at Looking Glass Optical

If you’re due for an eye exam, Looking Glass Optical in Pasadena can help. We use state-of-the-art equipment and techniques to perform comprehensive eye exams every day. We also offer pediatric eye care services, as well as a complete lineup of glasses and contacts. For more information, contact us today at 410-768-0202. Or, visit our online scheduler to make an appointment.

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