Dilating Eyes Before An Eye Exam

Has an eye doctor ever dilated your eyes? Eye dilation has been a common part of the eye inspection process for decades. If you’ve ever wondered why that is, we’re here to help.

What is Eye Dilation?

The eye dilation process involves the application of a special compound that dilates the pupils. This can involve an eye dropper or a spray. The compound blocks the parasympathetic receptors in the sphincter of your iris, which in turn prevents the muscles in the sphincter from contracting. This keeps your iris open to let more light in, allowing your doctor to better see your retina as well as other parts of your inner eye.

Eye dilation is used to inspect for the following conditions:

  • Glaucoma: Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness for people over the age of 60, It can affect anyone at any age, even with no family history of it. It occurs when the pressure in your eye’s optic nerve is too high.
  • Cataracts: Cataracts involve the eye’s lens becoming thick and cloudy. It can be caused by injury or age. Many factors increase your risk of cataracts, including diabetes and certain medications.
  • Age-related macular degeneration (AMD): As you age, a section of your retina called the macula weakens. It controls your central vision. When it declines, it becomes harder to recognize faces or execute regular tasks such as driving. AMD is a leading cause of vision loss for people older than 50.
  • Diabetic retinopathy: The high blood sugar that comes with diabetes can make your retina bleed or leak fluid into your eye. This can lead to visual distortions and even blindness if left untreated.
  • Detached retinas: Sometimes the retina will detach from the blood vessels that provide it with oxygen and nutrients. This can cause visual distortions as well as blindness in advanced cases..
  • Ocular tumors: Cancerous tumors can grow in the eyes. A dilated eye exam can help your doctor detect these so you can get treatment as soon as possible and prevent cancer from spreading.

Side-Effects of the Dilation Process

The most common side-effect of eye dilation is light sensitivity and blurry vision for 4 to 24 hours after the exam. It’s strongly recommended that patients don’t drive until these symptoms go away, so you may want to arrange a ride with a friend or call an Uber. Some patients have mild allergic reactions involving redness, swelling near the eye, or dry mouth.

Since 1903, the Cheyenne Eye Clinic and Surgery Center has provided comprehensive eye care services to improve patients’ sight and enhance their lives—and we want to do the same for you. Whether you need a routine eye exam or cataract surgery. Whether you want a new pair of glasses or you need a contact lens fitting. Whether you’ve been a patient for decades or you just moved here. You’ll get the same personal care and attention from our board-certified doctors, experienced technicians, and friendly staff. Everything we do is focused on you so you can focus on what matters.

Why Is It Required To Dilate Eyes?


Our Optical Department will close at 2:00 PM on November 20th to attend the memorial service for a dear friend and colleague. 

We apologize for the inconvenience.