Dilation of the eyes can be performed at a visit for wellness or a problem-focused medical evaluation of your eyes. However, the reason your doctor performs this in depth evaluation matters. When a specific problem is being evaluated, eye doctors will document the presence or absence of the signs associated with the problem; when we are checking a healthy eye for the unknown, eye doctors are only looking for something outside the ordinary — the absence of findings is expected and therefore not documented to rule out progression of a condition. In the absence of a diagnosis, medical tests cannot be billed to medical insurance; and this is the best news. Most wellness eye exams end with a demonstration of vision improvement with glasses/contacts plus maybe a specialty service or two; it’s a good thing that urgent medical eye care is only rarely needed!
Indications for dilation at a wellness vision exam may include but are not limited to the following:
- pertinent family or personal history
- high minus correction
- pinhole or small pupil
- recent injury
- abnormal tests results
- any other need to see more detail inside the eye at your wellness visit
Not having a dilated eye exam when indicated and/or failing to attend a prescribed problem-focused medical visit may be detrimental to your health and your vision. Dilation opens the pupil to better evaluate eye health, but it does have these temporary side effects that may last up to six hours: light sensitivity & blurred near vision.
Please, only ever drive with clear, comfortable vision.
Pupil dilation is not typically performed at wellness eye exams for patients who are pregnant, nursing, or allergic to the dilating agents (proparacaine, phenylephrine/hydroxy-amphetamine hydrobromide, & tropicamide).