The Comprehensive Dilated Eye Exam:
Opening the door to preventing blindness A doctor can detect signs of age-related macular degeneration, also known as AMD, during a comprehensive dilated eye exam. The patient receives special eyedrops that dilate the pupils. The pupils open wide allowing the doctor to see the back of the eye clearly. When eyes are dilated the doctor can clearly see the retina, optic nerve, and the macula. While examining the retina, the doctor can look for signs of AMD. If this patient had AMD, the doctor would see yellow spots beneath the retina called drusen or dark clumps of pigment. AMD is one of the main causes of visual impairment and blindness in older people. Dilation enables doctors to get a better view of the back of the eye, which allows them to determine whether there are early symptoms of disease. But it’s important to know that all people older than 60 need a comprehensive dilated eye exam each year, and should inform their doctor right away if they begin to have problems with their sight. People at higher risk may need to have a dilated eye exam more often. Risk factors including race, age, and family history are all important to determine how often patients should receive a comprehensive dilated eye exam.