Why are dilating drops necessary?

Cyclopentolate is the standard dilating eyedrop used for children's eye exams.

Great question! Although dilating drops do add some additional time to your visit, and are not any child's favorite part of the exam, they wear off within one day, only sting a little for a minute or so, and are critical to a pediatric eye exam for two reasons:

  1. They allow the ophthalmologist to examine critical eye structures like the optic nerve and retina, which are very hard to see otherwise.
  2. They allow for an accurate determination of the child's refractive error. Refractive error refers to any trouble with the focusing system of the eye, and examples include myopia ("nearsightedness"), hyperopia ("farsightedness"), and astigmatism.