Optometrists and ophthalmologists will sometimes recommend that patients have their eyes dilated during checkups. Dilation allows the optometrist to examine your retinas, and it can also help in choosing an accurate prescription for your glasses or contacts. Before you go to your next checkup, consider the reasons you might need to have your eyes dilated, and discuss them with your optometrist.
Eye Condition Diagnosis
Dilation can help to diagnose a range of conditions, including glaucoma and macular degeneration. Depending on your age and medical history, you may want to have your eyes checked for these conditions to ensure ongoing vision health. If you have a history of diabetes, you should have your eyes dilated for an exam once per year to look for retinopathy and other diabetes-related eye issues.
A dilation exam can help to establish a baseline for your eye health. Your optometrist or ophthalmologist can examine your retinas and determine the basic overall condition of your eyes. If there are no issues present, your doctor may recommend having your next exam performed without dilation. In the event that he or she finds some signs of glaucoma, macular degeneration or any other vision issue, you may be instructed to have your eyes dilated for a follow-up exam.
While many people can get a prescription for glasses without having their eyes dilated, optometrists and ophthalmologists will recommend it for certain patients. Dilation is used for children to help determine if they need glasses and what prescription is needed. The dilation drops relax the muscles in the eyes, making it easier for the doctor to measure and examine the eyes.
Alternative To Dilation
Advances in technology have made it possible for some people to have dilation-free eye exams. This is done through a digital retinal scanning machine that some optometrists and ophthalmologists have begun to use. If you are allergic to the eye drops used during the dilation process, or if you have light-colored eyes that are more sensitive to light, you may be able to use this option to have a thorough retinal examination without dilation. This option is also ideal for people who do not have anyone to drive them to and from a dilation appointment, as dilation does affect your ability to drive safely.
Talk to your optometrist about your eye health and whether or not dilation is necessary for your checkups. If you have medical conditions that might cause eye and vision issues, dilation or retinal scanning may be recommended. Be sure to ask about how dilation will affect your eyes, and talk about alternative procedures to see which one is right for you.