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Dilation - The Word We All Hate But Can Save Our Life

We often think that the main purpose of our visit to our optometrist is to get an updated prescription for glasses. It could be that our current pair of glasses are broken, or are no longer working for us. While getting an updating your glasses prescription is an important reason to see an optometrist, even more critical is to have regular examinations to ensure that your eyes are healthy.

In a comprehensive eye exam, your optometrist will recommend putting dilating drops in you eyes. Dilating drops make the pupil of your eye big so we can take a look all the way to the back of the eye where the retina lies. The retina is the tissue at the back of the eye that allows you to see. Also back there, we can look at the nerve that runs from your eye to your brain as well as the blood vessels that feed the eye with oxygen.

Our ability to see the above structures is what allows us to see indications of conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol plaques, multiple sclerosis and even brain tumours. A significant amount of medical conditions can also be seen inside of the eye. This is because the eye is the only part of the human body were we can look directly at your blood vessels without have to surgically cut into you. The problem lies in that changes to the back of the eye do not cause pain and may not cause any vision loss. The reason is that there aren’t pain receptors in the retina. As well, there is only a small area that is devoted to providing us with clear vision, if this area is not affected vision will not be affected.

Apart from general medical conditions that can cause changes, dilated examinations will allow us to pick up any degenerations in the retina. These can be holes, tears or even full detachments of the retina. These may or may not cause any symptoms, but if left untreated can lead to permanent vision loss in the affected eye. Only a dilated exam will ensure there are none of these, imaging is not able to capture all of the retina and so can let these issues go undetected.

It is recommended that children 19 and under should have an examination every year, starting at 6 months of age. Adults between the ages of 20-64 years old should have an eye exam at least once every 2 years. Seniors 65 and over should have an eye exam at least once a year. More frequent examinations may be required depending on your risk factors or current medical conditions. The frequency at which you should have a dilated examination will depend on your age, and your risk factors.

We are happy to provide you and your family with a comprehensive eye exam. For your convenience we have online booking to allow you to book your appointment at any time of the day. We look forward to seeing you soon.

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