Dilation is something patients don't think about each day. While you may live in the medical world where we talk about eye health on a regular basis, most patients only think about dilation one or two times a year. That means we need to have a no-frills approach toward education to our patients. When patients understand the basics, they can understand why it's important and how to best care for their eyes. Here's a no-frills approach to explaining dilation to your patients!
According the BrightFocus Foundation, pupil dilation “is very important at revealing the status of your optic nerve and retina.” When doctors place eye drops in your eyes, it takes a few minutes to dilate the pupils, and then the doctor can examine your optic nerve (bundle or nerve fibers at the back of the eye that carry visual messages from the retina to the brain) and macula (the portion of the eye at the center of the retina that processes sharp, clear straight-ahead vision). The actual examination of your pupils won’t take long, but it may take a few hours for your eyes to return to normal.
Pupil dilation is essentially a preventative measure that allows doctors to screen for eye conditions that could be troublesome for patients down the line. It is a key part of the eye exam because it provides doctors with a clear view into patients’ eyes so they can identify health problems before it’s too late to correct them.
Though pupil dilation can be uncomfortable, it is not painful, and with the proper care, a patient’s eyes can be protected from any harm after undergoing this exam. The foremost safety concern for dilated eyes is light sensitivity. Since pupil dilation allows an increased amount of light to enter the eye, light sensitivity is a legitimate concern. In order to protect the eyes, doctors will typically utilize some sort of protective eyewear for the patient. Rollens wrap-a-round protective lenses are the largest selling product in the medical market and help protect post-mydriatic patients’ light sensitive eyes from bright light, such as sunlight. Rollens offers two lines of protective lenses, platinum gray and gold amber, for ultraviolet protection. Many doctors will utilize this kind of product to make the patient’s experience a positive one.
As you now understand, pupil dilation is a relatively easy process. Aside from experiencing some tingling and minor sensations in the eyes, pupil dilation is a simple exam with no long-lasting side effects.