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Dilated Retinal Exam: FAQs

Dilated Retinal Exam: FAQs

What is it?

A dilated retinal exam is a test that lets your doctor see the inside of the back of your eye. To do this, your doctor uses a magnifying instrument called an ophthalmoscope and a light source. A test done with an ophthalmoscope is called ophthalmoscopy. It’s a good idea to keep a list of the medicines you take and bring it with you to your appointment.


Why is this test done?

A dilated retinal exam is done to look for eye problems and diseases. It can also be used to find other issues, such as head injuries or brain tumors.

This exam is usually done as part of a regular eye exam. Other eye tests that may be done include vision testing and intra-ocular pressure testing.


What happens during the test?

Your doctor or a member of his staff will use eye drops to widen (dilate) your pupils. This makes it easier to see the back of the eye. It takes about 15 to 20 minutes to fully dilate the pupils.

The dilating eye drops may make your eyes sting and can cause a medicine taste in your mouth. This should only last for a few seconds.

When your pupils are dilated, your doctor will shine a bright light into your eyes and examine them

Tell your doctor if you or anyone in your family has glaucoma, macular degeneration, or any other eye disorders and if you are allergic to any type of eye drops.


What happens after the test?

Your near vision will be blurry for several hours.

You will probably be able to go home or back to your usual activities right away. But your eyes will be sensitive. Protect them from the sun by wearing sunglasses.

Driving after dilation is up to each particular patient and their comfort.


When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if you have questions about the test.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems.

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