Eye dilation is often the least favorite part of an eye exam. However, as an optometrist, you know that it is one of the most vital services you provide for your patients. It allows you to catch conditions early, protecting sight and even saving lives.

To help get your patients on board, it is best to let them know the importance of dilation. Here are a few key points to focus on:

1. Dilation provides a good look at overall health of the eye. It allows optometrists to see signs and signals of glaucoma, macular degeneration and retinal problems – all of which can lead to serious implications with long-term eyesight.

2. Dilation can reveal other health problems that have nothing to do with sight. The back part of the eye can show signs of hypertension and diabetes, two major conditions that can have serious (and sometimes life-threatening) implications. If there are any signs of either of these, you can then refer your patients to a specialist who can help them deal with that problem.  

3. Share broad anecdotes of patients who had vision or life saved from dilation. Of course, be sure to grab the patient’s written consent or speak in broad terms (never violate HIPAA) to share specific cases where a dilation allowed you to see that a patient’s retina was about to detach or that they could have had a stroke at any moment due to off-the-chart high blood pressure. Ask for patient testimonials for these rare cases to help you share the need for dilation.

4. Dilation is pain-free and easy to do.  Doing regular dilated eye exams can help give your patients peace of mind and awareness of small problems before they become BIG, expensive problems.  

5. Dilation is temporary.  Yes, patients’ eyes will be sensitive to light and they won’t have great near-sighted vision for a while afterward, but life goes on. Temporary sunshades, like Rollens wrap-a-round lenses, are great options to give your patients extra protection for their sensitive eyes. Strategic scheduling of appointments can also help patients deal with the impaired near vision. Always make sure they know that they can drive home safely after a dilated eye exam.  

6. Consider retinal images like Optos. While these cost more money to the patient, you may be able to get the patient on board with getting pictures of the back of the eye taken, instead of doing dilation. This could be a great revenue stream for the practice and increase patient satisfaction. Of course, we all know that there are times when these pictures warn us of potential problems that only dilation will let us see fully.

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