Schedule Eye Exam

Why Do Eye Doctors Dilate Your Eyes? The Benefits of Pupil Dilation

An annual eye exam may mean it’s time for your pupils to be dilated. But why? What are doctors looking for when they dilate your eyes?  

The optometry team at Nationwide Vision wants you to walk into your next eye exam feeling confident and comfortable. Continue reading to learn more about pupil dilation. 

What’s the Reason for Pupil Dilation

During an eye exam without dilation, it can be quite difficult for your eye doctor to get a full view of your eye’s health. Eye doctors use a bright light and magnifying glass to examine the outside and inner parts of your eye through your pupil. The pupil is the black circle in the middle of the eye that changes in size to allow light in and out.  

When exposed to bright lights, the pupil will shrink in size. This makes it difficult for your eye doctor to use their light without affecting their view of the eye. Your pupil will stay enlarged after being dilated.   

Once the pupil is dilated, your eye doctor will have a clearer view of the anatomy of your eye. They will be able to fully inspect the back of the eye more clearly. 

This aids your eye doctor in detecting eye diseases like diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, and glaucoma. They’ll also be able to notice any signs of other ocular conditions, such as retina detachments or tumors. 

In the early stages, many eye conditions don't always have symptoms, so it's important for your doctor to assess the inside of your eye for early detection. Many systemic conditions can cause ocular anomalies, which can be detected during a dilated eye exam. 

How Will My Eyes Be Dilated?

Dilating your eyes is a quick and painless procedure that is done by your eye doctor. The doctor will administer a local anesthetic before applying eye drops to each of your eyes. 

It will take around 15 to 30 minutes for your eyes to fully dilate. This may take less time if you have light-colored eyes, as they typically dilate faster than darker-colored eyes. 

How Long Will My Pupils Be Dilated?

Your pupils will typically take 1 to 2 hours to return to their normal condition.  Timing often depends on which type of dilating eye drops your eye doctor uses, so be sure to ask your eye doctor for the specific timeframe.  

After getting your pupils dilated you may experience sensitivity to light or blurry vision. Use these tips to be prepared for your next eye exam: 

  • Be sure to bring sunglasses with you, or ask your doctor for disposable ones, in case of light sensitivity after your exam. 

  • If you wear contacts, bring your glasses along, as well. Your doctor may not want you to put your contacts back in after the dilation. 

  • Ask a friend or family member to drive you home from the appointment. 

Characteristics That Increase Your Need for Dilated Eye Exams

Some people need to get dilated eye exams more frequently than others due to their higher risk of eye diseases. This allows your eye doctor to closely monitor your eye health and provide preventative care. Your eye doctor will advise on how often you need to get a dilated exam.  

You will likely need a dilated eye exam every one to two years if you: 

  • Are over the age of 60 

  • Have been diagnosed with diabetes or high blood pressure 

  • Are of African American heritage and over age 40 

  • Have a family history of glaucoma 

Schedule a Comprehensive Eye Exam Today

A dilated eye exam lets your eye doctor keep an eye on your ocular and overall health. Find a Nationwide Vision near you to schedule a comprehensive eye exam today! 

Surprise Waddell Rd
Surprise Waddell Rd
Gilbert Chandler Heights
Bullhead City
Sun City
Peoria West Bell Rd
Phoenix Arcadia
Goodyear Palm Valley
Mesa Pediatrics
Mesa Southern Ave
Glendale Cactus Rd
Phoenix West McDowell Rd
Phoenix Greenway Rd
Phoenix Moon Valley
Mesa Power Rd
Chandler Queen Creek
Phoenix Baseline
Phoenix West Camelback
Prescott Valley
Tempe Rio Salado Pkwy
Tempe Guadalupe Rd
Gilbert Val Vista Rd
Glendale West Beardsley
Chandler Gilbert Rd
Gilbert Williams Field Rd
Mesa University Dr
Lake Havasu
Park 10
Tucson Campbell Medical Center
Chandler Alma School Rd
Phoenix Bethany Home Rd
Tucson Tanque Verde
Sierra Vista
San Tan Valley
Phoenix Maryvale
Phoenix Lower Buckeye
Tucson Golf Links Rd
Tucson Valencia
Tucson Speedway
Tucson Rita Ranch
Tucson Oracle Rd
Tucson North Oracle
Tucson Marana
Tucson Campbell Ave
Tucson Broadway Rd
Tucson Ajo
Surprise Greenway Rd
North Scottsdale
Phoenix Pediatrics
Phoenix Happy Valley
Phoenix Glendale Rd
Camelback Biltmore
Peoria West Olive
Peoria Lake Pleasant
Mesa McKellips Rd
Cooley Station
Show Low
Queen Creek
Mesa Mountain Vista
Goodyear Estrella Parkway
Glendale West Northern
City Gate
Casa Grande
Apache Junction Idaho Rd.