Use of Eye Drops During Exams

Nearly all new patients and many returning patients receive drops during an eye examination. Eye drops are given for various reasons. Review the information below to learn why your child may be given eye drops.

Why Eye Drops are Given

The purpose of this medication is to make it possible for the doctor to get a better look inside the eyes (by enlarging or dilating the pupils) and to determine more accurately their refractive or optical condition (so that glasses can be prescribed, if necessary).

Dilating drops are given after vision and other eye functions have been tested by the doctor.

Usually, this is done by the medical assistant in a special room, but sometimes the doctor gives the drops in the examination room. Younger children receive a small reward after allowing drops to be placed in their eyes.

Most children need to receive two or three different kinds of drops and, after a few minutes, one or more of these may need to be given a second time. The drops cause mild stinging that lasts for a minute or two when they are placed in the eye. This discomfort can be reduced by giving an additional anesthetic (numbing) drop first.

Sometimes drops are given for other reasons, including the need to reduce discomfort following an injury or to help measure the pressure in the eyes. The nature, specific purpose and effect (which usually does not include blurring of vision) of any medication will be explained to you by your doctor.

While You Wait

You and your child may leave the area while waiting for dilating drops to work (this takes between 30 to 60 minutes).

If you do, please let the assistant or receptionist know where you are going. We will be happy to offer you a pager and page you when you are needed to return.

Younger children often become sleepy following drops. Mild flushing of the skin sometimes develops.

More severe reactions are rare, but if you notice anything you are concerned about after drops are given, let us know. Please inform the medical assistant or one of the doctors.

Dilating drops produce temporary blurring of vision that may make it difficult for school-age children to return to class or do homework assignments on the day of the exam.

Wear Sunglasses After Exam

Your child’s eyes will not be harmed by exposure to bright light after dilation, but wearing sunglasses (we can supply a disposable pair) may make your child more comfortable.

The pupils may appear larger than usual for several days, but normal eye function returns by the next morning.