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New patients and often patients returning for a yearly eye exam will receive dilating eye drops.  These eye drops are administered to allow us to refract the child (check for eyeglasses) in a manner that does not require patient cooperation and also allows us to examine the internal structures of the eye (optic nerve and retina).  

These eye drops take approximately 30-40 minutes to work, both dilating the pupil and elimination the child’s ability to focus (thus blurring the vision).  Children will be somewhat more light sensitive after the eye drops and will find their vision blurred especially for near work with difficulty reading.  Children are able to ambulate well and play.

The eye drops wear off in two stages.  Focusing ability usually returns first, in about two-three hours and children will again be able to read. Large pupils often do not return to normal until the next day, but they always return to normal and this should not be a cause for concern.  Often the pupils are unequal as they return to normal.  

Your child may return to school despite the eye drops and the teacher should be told that there will be difficulty reading for a few hours. Your child may play outside immediately.  The light sensitivity is usually not particularly troublesome, but if the sunlight should bother your child, sunglasses or a hat with a brim may be helpful.  

The eye drops are safe and necessary for a complete and thorough eye examination.  Children often complain of initial slight stinging from the eye drops for the first 5-10 seconds after application.  An anesthetic eye drop can also be administered to decrease the complaints, although this occasionally may give minor discomfort. 

We look forward to seeing your child.