A comprehensive dilated eye exam is an invaluable diagnostic process that allows your optometrist to spot and diagnose many illnesses, including those associated with the eye and a few that have nothing to do with the eye at all. In this exam, your optometrist administers eye drops to dilate your pupil. This process allows them to examine your entire eye to a greater extent than the small opening of the pupil normally allows.
By getting a good look at the inside of your eyes, your optometrist can spot many diseases, some of them in their earliest stages. The following are diseases and disorders that can be diagnosed with a comprehensive dilated eye exam.
Common Causes of Blindness
As you grow older, there are many eye conditions that can arise and steal away your eyesight. A condition called age-related macular degeneration affects people over 50 and is caused by deposits of color that form beneath the retina. The condition can also affect the blood vessels surrounding the retina. Another condition that can affect eyesight is glaucoma. Glaucoma damages the optic nerves that deliver images to the brain to be processed.
Tumors and Neurological Disorders
Brain tumors and other neurological diseases and disorders, such as multiple sclerosis, can be spotted very early with a dilated eye exam. In fact, a dilated exam can uncover subtle changes in and around the eye that are not picked up by other diagnostic tests. For example, a small brain tumor might not be large enough to show up on any scans, but it can cause discoloration and nerve damage in the eye that can be quickly spotted by your optometrist.
Diabetes and Diabetic Retinopathy
Diabetes causes many changes in the eye and leads to a condition called diabetic retinopathy. This condition affects the blood vessels that supply blood to the retina. In early stages, the disease causes small aneurysms within the blood vessels. During the late stages, the condition stimulates the growth of numerous insubstantial blood vessels, which can leak blood and cause blindness. An eye exam can uncover signs of diabetes and diabetic retinopathy before other symptoms occur.
As you can see, there are many conditions that can be diagnosed with a thorough dilated eye exam. While your optometrist might not perform a dilated exam each time you visit, it's a good idea to have one every now and then and to have one more often as you age or if you're having issues or have had issues with your vision.
For more information, contact a business such as Northway Eye & Contact Lens Center.