Dilated retinal exams are performed by ophthalmologists to assess the health of the retina, which is the layer of tissue that lines the back wall of your eye. The exam is named for the step in the test that involves dilation of the pupils, which allows the doctor to see the back of the eye better and look for signs of eye disease. The National Eye Institute recommends a dilated retinal exam once every one or two years for people aged 60 and older.
Dilated retinal exam sounds scary if you do not know what happens during the procedure, however, the exam is pretty simple. It is also pain-free, which should be a relief to patients who have never had it done before.
To help you get a better understanding of this important diagnostic tool, we will talk about what goes on during a dilated retinal exam.
Dilated Retinal Exam: The Procedure
Your ophthalmologist will ask you to sit in a chair and rest your chin on the support in front of you. They will then place drops in your eyes to dilate or widen the pupil. You will be asked to stay seated for several minutes while the drops begin to work.
You may feel a bit of tingling from the eye drops, however, it should not cause any pain. Next, the doctor will use an instrument to shine a light into your eyes and have a clear view of your retina and optic nerve. They will ask you to look in different directions one at a time in order to get a complete view of the eye.
What Can a Dilated Retinal Exam Be Used to Diagnose?
The three conditions that can be diagnosed with the exam are diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
- Diabetic retinopathy is a condition that can lead to vision loss and blindness. It occurs when diabetes damages the blood vessels in the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. Diabetic retinopathy usually affects both eyes.
- Glaucoma is a condition in which the optic nerve is damaged, typically as a result of increased pressure within the eye, which can lead to vision loss and blindness. Through dilated eye exams, an ophthalmologist can get a better view of the optic nerve and check for evidence of damage.
- Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of vision loss among older adults. It is characterized by the deterioration of the macula, which is the central portion of the retina. The macula is responsible for the sharp, central vision needed for activities such as reading and driving. Although AMD can affect both eyes, usually only one eye is affected at a time. The early stages of AMD are characterized by small drusen or yellow deposits under the retina. More advanced stages of AMD include thinning of the retina and damage to retinal pigment cells that support photoreceptors in the macula. This can lead to blind spots in your field of vision or a decrease in your ability to see fine details clearly.
Eye Exam in Washington, MO
Schedule your dilated retinal exam now at Advanced Sight Center. We have ophthalmologists and optometrists who can perform this during a routine eye exam. We welcome you to our state-of-the-art eye center in Washington, MO. To schedule an appointment, call our office today at (636) 239-1650 or use our convenient online request form.