As part of your eye examination, you may receive drops to widen (dilate) your pupils to allow a detailed view of the back of your eye (fundus). The fundus contains the retina, the optic nerve, and other structures. Dilation is also required for Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), laser surgery, and other procedures. Pupil dilation is needed to help detect and diagnose important sight-threatening diseases such as cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, retinal vein occlusions, and retinal detachment.
The drops take about 15 to 20 minutes to dilate the pupil fully. You may also receive numbing drops. Tell your eye doctor if you or anyone else in your family has a history of narrow angle glaucoma, or if you are allergic to dilating or anesthetic eye drops.
Your eyes will remain dilated for one to four hours, occasionally longer. Children’s eyes may remain dilated for up to 12 to 72 hours. You may have trouble focusing. We recommend that you arrange to have someone drive you home because of blurred vision and light sensitivity. You may want to wear sunglasses when you go outside or into a brightly lit room. It may also be difficult to return to work or school immediately following the exam.
Talk to your eye professional about any concerns you have regarding pupil dilation, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results may indicate.