What is a dilated eye exam?

A dilated eye exam is the most comprehensive way for an eye doctor to check the health of the posterior part of the eye. Using an eye drop that temporarily effects pupil constriction, an eye doctor can check the retina, optic nerve, and macula to insure the patient's eye is free of eye disease.  This can be compared to making a small window larger in order to have a better field of view.

What can be found during a dilated eye exam?

  1. Diabetes

More than 100 million Americans  or 9.4% of the population are living with Diabetes or are considered pre-diabetic. Patient who are pre-diabetic, Type 1 or Type 2 are required to have an annual dilated eye exam as they have an increased risk of diabetic retinopathy, vision loss, and blindness.

Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness.

2. Glaucoma

Glaucoma is an eye disease that affects the tissue around the nerve.  Through various mechanisms, the tissue around the optic nerve becomes thinned, and as a result, a patient's peripheral vision is effective. While vision loss can be prevented, many times, the disease is detected too late and vision loss cannot be reversed.

Currently, more than 3 million Americans have Glaucoma and the number is expected to increase as Americans live longer.

"From 2010 to 2050, the number of people in the U.S. with glaucoma is expected to increase by more than double, from 2.7 million to 6.3 million."

Only a dilated eye exam by an eye doctor can detect Glaucoma. For more information on Glaucoma, see our information page.

3. Cholesterol 

43 million Americans are currently treated for cholesterol. Cholesterol can cause strokes of the eye and of the body. Anyone on cholesterol medications, should have their eyes dilated by an eye doctor.

Cholesterol visible within the eye is called a Hollenhorst plaque, and appears as a yellow, refractile particle which typically lodges in the bifurcation of the blood vessels.

4. Alzheimer's Disease

Recent studies have found a link between reduced blood capillaries and reduced oxygen in the retina to Alzheimer's disease.

Researchers state, "Long-term studies are also important to see if the retinal capillaries will change more dramatically in those who progressively decline and develop Alzheimer's dementia."

It's quite possible an eye exam will include a screening for Alzheimer's.

5. Melanoma

3360 cases of Melanoma of the eye are diagnosed each year.  Sun exposure over the course of a patient's lifetime, as well as genetics are risk factors. Typically Melanoma in the eye starts out as a choroidal nevus (freckle) and should be monitored for changes over time yearly. Nevi closer in proximity to either the optic nerve or macula should be monitored more frequently with dilated eye exams and fundus photography.  Choroidal nevi are fairly common and an estimated 5-10% can become Melanoma

Who should have a dilated eye exam?

Patients with a history of any eye disease including Glaucoma, Macular Degeneration or retinal detachments should have a dilated eye exam.

Any patient who has been diagnosed and/or is treated for a systemic condition such as Hypertension, Diabetes, Cholesterol, Cancer or Heart Disease.

Everyone should have a baseline dilated eye exam.  One a baseline is established, the patient can be monitored for change over time.

Dr. Courtney Dryer and the staff of Autarchic Spec Shop specialize in the prescription glasses, contact lenses and more for you and your family. Call our eye doctor in Charlotte, NC today at 704.208.4548 or schedule an appointment online for an eye exam. Our eye exams and optometrist provide the highest quality eye services amongst eye doctors in the Charlotte North Carolina area.

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1600 E. Woodlawn Rd. Ste 362
Charlotte, NC 28209





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