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What is Eye Dilation, and How Long Does it Last?

What is Eye Dilation, and How Long Does it Last?

Eye Care


Eye dilation is a process in which the doctors intentionally dilate the pupils. The eye dilating drops widen the pupil. The dilated eye exam is a medical test which allows the doctor to look into the back of the patient’s eye. It is very useful for diagnosing certain conditions and diseases in their early stages.

How Long Does Eye Dilation Last?

The dilation of the eyes takes time, and some eye drops usually need up to 30 minutes to dilate the eyes fully. The dilation typically lasts between 4 and 24 hours

However, it becomes difficult for the doctor to let you know exactly how long the effects of the eye dilation will last and how severe it will be as the reaction of the eyes to dilating drops can vary from person to person. Some important factors that affect the duration of dilation are as follows:

  1. Age – Young children usually have a very powerful focus mechanism in the eyes. Hence, they require powerful drugs to dilate the pupils. A young child’s eyes can stay dilated for a longer period.
  2. Eye color – Unlike those with dark-colored eyes, people with light-colored eyes experience the effects of eye dilation for a longer duration.
  3. Type of drug – The doctor may use different types of drugs to dilate the pupils. Hence, the time of dilation can vary according to the type of drug used. So, you must take adequate precautions as long as you have blurred vision or if your eyes become sensitive to light.

Do the Eye Dilation Drops Have any Side Effects?

There are several side effects caused by eye dilation. The most immediate effect is stinging. It generally occurs when the drops come into contact with the eyes. Usually, your doctor will apply special numbing drops to your eye to prevent any stinging sensation.

You may experience one or more of the following side effects once the eye dilation drops take effect:

  1. Blurry vision
  2. Focusing on nearby objects becomes difficult
  3. Stinging sensation

If you have a habit of wearing contact lenses, you may not be able to wear them until the effects of dilation wear off. Moreover, you may experience an allergic reaction to eye drops in rare cases, resulting in swollen and red eyes. More severe allergic reactions can produce the following:

  1. Fever
  2. Flushed face
  3. Rapid pulse
  4. Dry mouth

However, you can take certain steps to help manage the effects of eye dilation, such as avoiding focusing on a computer screen and wearing sunglasses to protect the eyes that become sensitive to light.

Why is Eye Dilation Important?

Eye dilation allows your eye doctor to look inside your eyes. Doctors usually use dilating drops to widen the pupil to ensure it does not get smaller when the light is shined on it. This widened pupil will allow the doctor to look inside your eye and at the back of your eye by using a magnifying lens, enabling your doctor to easily view the retina, optic nerve, and other parts of the eye.

Moreover, many eye conditions can be easily diagnosed with the help of dilation. These include:

Furthermore, it also helps diagnose certain chronic conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure that can affect more than your eyes. This is because such conditions can cause some noticeable changes in the eye. For instance, high blood pressure can cause damage to the blood vessels in the retina. This can only be seen with the eyes are dilated.

See Also: High Blood Pressure Affects Your Eyes, But How?

Eye dilation can also be used to treat certain eye conditions like amblyopia and eye inflammation. The effects of the eye dilation drops used as treatment options are very much similar to those drops used during an examination.

If you have any queries related to eye dilation treatment, you can contact our medical team at Netralayam, the superspecialty eye care centre. We are among the prominent eye healthcare providers in Kolkata.



The mission of Netralayam is to provide tertiary level superspeciality eye care service of highest quality to all sections of the society through a team of competent, committed and compassionate professionals in a patient-friendly environment.

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