a close up of an eye dilated and how long it lasts

Eye Dilation: What is it and How Long Does it Last?

Getting your eyes dilated is an important part of any eye exam, but if you haven’t had it done before, you may be a little nervous about it. Don’t be! It’s totally harmless and gives your eye doctor a better look at the back of your eyes to help spot any signs of common eye conditions like glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, or other problems with the retina. Dilation can help your doctor diagnose any issues early and take steps to help protect your vision.

What is Eye Dilation?

To dilate your eyes, your eye doctor will use dilating eye drops to widen the pupil so they can look inside your eye. Once the drops are applied, you’ll typically have to wait 20 to 30 minutes before your eyes are fully dilated.

Normally, your pupil narrows when exposed to light, but, for this exam, the doctor needs the pupil to remain wide open (dilated) when they shine a light into your eye. Your optometrist or ophthalmologist will then use a magnifying lens to examine your retina, optic nerve, and blood vessels at the back of your eye.

What are the Side Effects of Eye Dilation?

Although eye dilation is harmless, it does come with some short-term side effects that you should know ahead of time. Because your pupils are wide open, you will likely be more sensitive to light, have blurry vision, and may have trouble focusing on close objects. If you have contact lenses, you may not be able to wear them until the drops wear off.

Managing the Side Effects of Eye Dilation

If you know you are getting your eyes dilated at your eye exam, consider having a friend or family member drive you. You should also bring sunglasses to your appointment, although your doctor may offer to give you a pair of sunglasses after your eyes are dilated. You also may want to schedule your appointment so that you don’t have to go to work right afterwards, especially if your job requires reading or working on a computer.

How Long Will Your Eyes Stay Dilated?

For most people, the effects of the dilating eye drops will wear completely off in 4 to 6 hours, although some people, such as children or people with light colored eyes, may feel the effects for longer periods of time. Everyone’s eyes react differently to dilation, but it’s important to use caution while your sight remains blurry or sensitive to light.

Come See Us!

If you’ve been putting off getting a complete eye exam with dilation, don’t wait another day! Book an appointment to visit our expert eye doctors at Tyson Eye.

Tyson Eye is regarded as one of the premier eye care centers in Southwest Florida. Our surgeons and doctors have helped thousands of people enjoy better vision and have consistently introduced break-through technology to the area. We are committed to excellence by delivering modern technology with old fashioned concern. We’re here to help you see better! Call us at 239-542-2020 today or request an appointment.