What Happens When Your Eyes Are Dilated

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When you visit your optometrist for a checkup, they will complete a number of tasks that help to determine the health of your eyes and the strength of your vision. One of the things they may do—often near the end of your appointment—is dilate your eyes. If you’ve never had your eyes dilated before, we’d like to tell you a little more about it so you know what to expect and why it’s done.

Why It’s Done

By dilating your eyes, we are able to determine a number of things. First, the time it takes for your eyes to dilate can tell us a little about the health of your eyes. If they dilate quickly, then your eyes are quite healthy. Older patients with waning eye health often take longer to dilate. Dilating also gives us the opportunity to see parts of your eyes that we wouldn’t normally be able to see, allowing us to do a more complete and comprehensive checkup.

What to Expect

When your eyes are dilated, your pupils will expand to the point that your iris will nearly disappear. This has a number of effects on your vision. First, you will be very sensitive to light. Bring a pair of sunglasses with you to your appointment if you can; if not, we will give you a pair of disposable glasses. Second, your near vision will likely be quite blurry for an hour or so. Once the dilation begins to diminish, your eyes should be able to focus on near objects again. Until then, don’t expect to be able to text, read a book, or work on your computer.

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