Eye Matters
August 30, 2011
Why do you have to put those drops into my eyes?

Hello Readers,

Last week we discussed the three O’s of Eye care. The Ophthalmologist, the Optometrist and the Optician.{{more}}

I often get asked this question: Doctor, why do you have to put those drops into my eyes? Whenever I go to see my Optometrist, it is not required.

I have decided to spend a few moments here to explain. Many patients often wonder whether eye drops that dilate (that is, widen the pupil), will be used during an eye examination and how long it will take for the drops to wear off. They are also afraid that the drops could cause harm to the eyes.

Dilating eye drops are necessary, and in fact sometimes crucial, for the proper diagnosis of certain eye diseases.

We use drops for two purposes. One is to enable the doctor to get a better view of the inner part of the eye for the detection of eye diseases such as diabetic eye disease, glaucoma and many retinal problems.

And, two, to paralyze the focusing muscle of the eye. Some doctors dilate the eyes routinely and, in fact, this practice is becoming the standard of care.

Only Ophthalmologists are licensed to use dilating drops in the eyes; that is why this procedure is not performed by an Optometrist or Optician, and if it is done, then only under supervision by an Ophthalmologist.

It may be necessary to use drops in older patients with very small pupils, especially if eye disease is suspected to be present.

In children, who often have trouble focusing at the required distances, we use these drops if we suspect an unusual problem.

If your eyes are dilated as part of your eye examination, they will most likely return to normal by the next morning, depending on what type of eye drop was used.

Stronger eye drops require a longer time to wear off. In the meantime, your eyes will be extremely sensitive to light and you will be unable to read or to focus at near for some hours. Your doctor will recommend that you wear sunglasses to help with any excessive glare. It is a temporary situation. Remember that the dilated eye examination provides more detail than just looking into the eye normally.

Until next week.

Dr Kenneth Onu is a resident Consultant Ophthalmologist at the Beachmont Eye Institute/Eyes R Us Send questions to: [email protected]

Tel: 784 456-1210