A Dilated Fundus Examination in "Regular English"

Reading through the purpose and procedure for a Dilated Fundus Examination (DFE) can sound like science fiction. Here’s our regular language interpretation.

What is it?
A DFE is an exam that uses special eye drops to enlarge the pupil of the eye. This gives optometrists a better view of the internal surface of the eye. It is a more effective method for checking internal eye health – similar to receiving an X-Ray at a dentist. It allows doctors to see the peripheral part of the retina, lens, and fluid inside your eye.

Why should I have one? 
This gives optometrists insight into your retinal health (cataracts, glaucoma, optic nerve head disease, plus many others) and about your overall health – this exam can find evidence of systemic disease prior to symptoms showing up elsewhere in the body.

What can I expect?

  • Medicated eye drops are administered to enlarge the pupil. This takes about 20-30 minutes to start working.
  • At first, you’ll notice that your near vision will start to blur slightly, then eventually you may notice distance blur. You may also become more sensitized to light. Depending on the drops used, your vision may remain blurry for 4-6 hours.
  • Interesting! People with light coloured eyes will often react quicker to the drops than those with darker coloured eyes. Their pupils will often dilate more, but the effects of the drops will often wear off quicker, too.
  • After the procedure, we recommend you wait for the effects of the eye drops to diminish or have someone pick you up. It’s a great idea to wear sunglasses after the procedure to reduce light sensitivity. 

Who should have a DFE?
A DFE is recommended for anyone with visual concerns, headaches, diabetes, hypertension, over the age of 65, or on medications that may affect vision. Anyone undergoing ocular surgery is required to have a DFE to ensure there are no underlying problems beforehand.

*Images found here and here