What is a dilated eye exam and why is it important?

You might think that your eyes are absolutely healthy when there are no symptoms, however it’s important to visit an eye doctor for the dilated eye exam as many eye conditions don’t present with symptoms initially.  Annual dilated exams are often recommended, however the frequency is dependent on many factors and varies from patient to patient.

A dilated fundus exam (DFE) is an integral part of an eye exam as it enables your optometrist to view the inside of your eyes.  Tropicamide 1.0% or 0.5% (Mydriacyl) is a common dilating agent used in routine examinations.

Optometrist Eye Exam - Toronto Optometrist

The Importance of Dilated Eye Exams:

A dilated drop allows the pupil to open up so the poster segment of the eye is examined fully. It’s specially important to examine the peripheral retina that’s otherwise difficult to view without dilation.  The exam is essential for timely diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma, a disease that has destroyed the lives of numerous people in Canada and the United States. A dilated eye exam allows your optometrist to fully assess the condition of your eyes and it is especially important for patients with macular disease such as AMD (age-related macular degeneration) and diabetic retinopathy.

Dilated eye exams are vital for our eye health and getting an exam can definitely save your vision when serious condition is detected.  Accessing peripheral retina with a dilated eye exam can detect retinal holes, breaks, tears or detachment.  RD, also known as retinal detachment, involves the separation of the neurosensory layers of the retina from the underlying pigments and epithelium and can lead to vision loss if not detected and treated urgently.  Often, retinal detachment is preceded by a PVD (posterior vitreous detachment) which sometimes gives the patients warning signs of flashes, floaters or shadows.  However, many times symptoms are absent in the presence of asymptotic retinal compromise.  Routine dilated exams can discover such conditions and allow for timely treatment and management.

Three factors to consider when getting a dilated eye exam:

1. Age – The risk of ocular disease is higher with advanced age, and so dilated eye exams become more critical. Annual exams are specially important for those 65 years of age and older, when changes are likely to take place and the chances of eye diseases increase.

2. Eye health – If you had been diagnosed with a posterior segment eye diseases previously, your doctor may ask you to get a dilated eye exam more frequently.

3. Tumors and high myopia – People who have had tumors or high myopia are asked to get dilated eye exams more frequently as they are in a higher risk group.

Routine Dilated eye examination

A comprehensive dilated eye exam lets your optometrist better assess your ocular health.  A thorough and regular dilated eye exam is always recommended to ensures that your eyes are free from any disorder or complications. Most specially, people with diabetes, high blood pressure, eye tumors, infectious diseases, retinal detachment, glaucoma, and macular degradation are recommended to get their eyes checked on regular basis.

To book your eye exam with one of our optometrists call one of our 360 Eyecare offices today or send us an email online.