Your retina is located in the back of your eye. On the front of your eye, the pupil is a round black opening in the center of the iris (the colored part of your eye). Normally, when light shines into your eye, the pupil shrinks in size, letting less light in. Placing dilating drops in your eye causes the pupil to widen and let more light in. This allows our retina physicians to use a special light and magnifying lens to see all the way into the back of your eye and properly examine the retina, macula and optic nerve.
A dilated retina exam is important to diagnosing and monitoring a number of retina conditions, including diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration and retinal tears or detachment. Once drops are placed in the eye, it typically takes 10-40 minutes for the pupil to fully dilate. Factors that can influence dilation time include your age, eye color and specific eye condition. Uveitis patients can take longer to dilate due to inflammation in their eyes.
Your eye will typically remain dilated for several hours after your appointment. As a result, your close-up vision will be blurry, and your eyes will be extra sensitive to bright light. That is why we recommend you bring sunglasses with you for the ride home.
You can learn more about what to expect at your Texas Retina Associates appointment here.