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Why you sometimes get drops during a visit to the optometrist

Monday, July 13, 2015 @ 10:07 PM
Author: Amit Mathur


There is one part of an annual optometrist visit that many people dread: having to get drops in their eyes. Not everybody gets them. If you do they can cause light sensitivity and leave you wondering why on earth you have to deal with it. Fortunately there is a good reason for the drops that makes them worth the temporary discomfort.

The eye drops are used so that your eye doctor can take a better look inside of your eyes. They are called mydriatics and enlarge the pupil. After the drops take effect your optometrist can see the lens, optic nerve and retina. They can also make it easier for your eye doctor to determine the correct prescription for your eyes. Some of them work by paralysing the iris sphincter muscle, which keeps the pupil small. Others will encourage the muscles that dilate the iris. Individuals with lighter eyes are more sensitive to mydriatics than those with darker eyes. Depending on your history, age, symptoms and which tests are being performed they may not be used.

The drops have the side effect of causing blurred vision and sensitivity to light. It is advisable not to drive afterwards. If you suspect you might be getting eye drops it is best to take transit or arrange a ride to your appointment. If you drove you may be given the option of coming back on another day or leaving your vehicle and coming back for it later. It usually takes between two and six hours for the effects to go away. Bringing sunglasses with you to wear after the appointment will help mitigate the effects of light sensitivity.

During surgery mydriatics can be used to keep the pupil dilated making it easier to perform certain procedures like the removal of a cataract. Mydriatics can be used following eye surgery to prevent the formation of scar tissue or to help the eye maintain its form following glaucoma surgery. They are sometimes given to children with lazy eye. The drops are placed in the good eye to force the bad eye to be used.

There are other types of drops that may be used in your eyes for different procedures or conditions. They can be used both during and after surgery as well as in other applications. Cycloplegics produce paralysis in the ciliary muscles and reduces the eyes ability to focus. It is used to measure farsightedness.

Either mydriatics, cycloplegics or both can be used to treat Uveitis, which is a type of inflammation of the eye. The uvea is the layer of the eye below the sclera and cornea. It includes the iris, choroid and ciliary body. Uveitis can be a serious condition. Symptoms include redness, pain and blurred vision. It has many different causes including infection, autoimmune disease and injury. Uveitis can cause vision loss and should be taken seriously.

During surgery anesthetic eye drops may be used. These numb the eye if it needs to be touched during the surgery.

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