Q: I have been putting off my eye exam, honestly because I just hate those dilation eye drops! I can’t see the rest of the day and the sun is painfully bright. What can I do to help?
A: Yours is a very common concern, but we have good news for you! Today we have imaging technology that can “see” the entire inside of your eyes and provides a full color, wide screen view. Simply put, this means that for most normal patients we can examine the inside of your eyes without those eye drops.
This retinal imaging technique is optional, but virtually all patients prefer this method over being dilated for the day. Because insurance does not cover this technology, you would likely have an out of pocket payment for choosing this. As patients often ask, would medical insurance pay for dilation? The answer is not straightforward, because your policy likely has a co-payment for each and every medical procedure, plus you likely have an annual deductible to pay out of pocket before they begin paying for you. The bottom line is usually that this optional retinal imaging procedure is far easier and less disruptive, and may cost less than the balance your insurance would charge you.
We also find that most patients appreciate actually seeing the inside of their own eyes! We explain what we are seeing to each patient, again finding that most people like to learn about their eyes. With the older dilation method, only your eye doctor can see the inside of your eyes and must try to explain verbally what we are seeing.
Please realize that there are still many eye conditions when using dilation drops is still the best for our diagnostic evaluation. For instance, diabetes is virtually an epidemic in the U.S. and often we need dilation with microscopic evaluation to determine the extent of diabetic eye disease. But this, and other causes, generally can be detected at your initial non-dilated exam……so you should be able to drive home and enjoy your day. Your eye doctor should be able to explain why dilation is indicated, and you can plan that subsequent exam when you could bring someone to drive you home afterward.
So good news…..your eye exam can be painless and not at all disruptive to the rest of your day. We always stress the importance of regular, preventive eye exams simply because most eye disease give absolutely no pain or discomfort to warn you. Enjoy your next eye exam!