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What is a dilated eye exam?

The American Academy of Ophthalmology now recommends a complete dilated exam by the time you are 40 (if you are not already getting regular eye exams). If you have not had a complete eye exam in the last few years, consider getting one.

Complaints of decreased near vision and the need to use reading glasses are normal with age and can start in the mid-forties. This problems is called presbyopia. But, if you have any other symptoms or haven't had an eye exam in a few years, you should see your eye doctor.

The eye doctor will put drops in your eyes to see the retina. This is called a dilated eye exam. The eye drops will make your pupils bigger. Then your doctor can see the back of your eye and find any eye problems early. Finding eye problems early and getting treatment can help prevent more serious problems.

Here's what to expect from a dilated eye exam:

  • Your eye care professional will place drops in your eyes to dilate, or widen, the pupil to allow more light to enter the eye—the same way an open door lets more light into a dark room.
  • This process offers a good look at the back of the eyes, so they can be examined for any signs of damage or disease.
  • Your close-up vision may remain blurry for a few hours after the exam.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

A routine eye exam includes a comprehensive dilated eye exam. Dilation drops are placed in both eyes so the doctor can look at the back of them and hunt for damage or disease. Common eye diseases that develop especially as we age include cataracts (clouded lenses), glaucoma (damage to the optic nerve from too much pressure in the eye), and age-related macular degeneration (deterioration of retinal area called the macular), the leading cause of blindness in people over 65.

Dr. Aaron P. Weingeist, MD
Ophthalmologist (Eye Specialist)

The American Academy of Ophthalmology now recommends a complete dilated exam by the time you are 40 (if you are not already getting regular eye exams). If you have not had a complete eye exam in the last few years, consider getting one.

Complaints of decreased near vision and the need to use reading glasses are normal with age and can start in the mid-forties. This problems is called presbyopia. But, if you have any other symptoms or haven't had an eye exam in a few years, you should see your eye doctor.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.