Medical question, help, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE

(ahem) Well, I really want an answer and would be very very grateful for one, and you’ll get your crown in heaven if you do answer.
I’m having a retinal exam Thursday. Nothing terrifies me more than this kind of thing for very long-winded reasons. I would infinitely prefer to shoot myself in the foot. I’ve had these before, but it was years ago and I think I blocked all memory of the whole thing out anyway. But it might help if I at least knew what to expect.
Does anyone know, and could anyone tell me, exactly what the exam procedure normally is? Maybe you’ve had it done yourself, or you’re a retinal specialist, or maybe it was done to someone you knew… What do they do? What do they not do? If you know, please tell me!@!!!

From the last time I had one done as part of an eye exam, the opthalmologist will put drops in your eye(s) to dilate the pupil, and then examine the retina with an opthalmoscope. The light from it is uncomfortable, almost painful, but bearable. The worst part, for me, was waiting for the dilation drops to wear off (about 12 hours). If they’re doing both eyes at the same time, have someone to drive you home and plan on missing work the rest of the day, cause you can’t see real well for a while. It’s really no big deal.

I had it done last month for the first time. Nothing special, very much like Q.E.D. mentioned but I did drive myself which was very fun.

Basically you’re going to have trouble seeing outside. Mine was done in a mall so I could see perfectly fine inside the stores but when I got outside on a nice sunny day, I couldn’t see squat. I could make out shapes, most colours and distance but I couldn’t focus because I had to squint.

The little beam of light didn’t hurt me at all. It was surprisingly fast. The exam part took 2 minutes.

If it’s what I think it is - don’t they just dialate your pupils, make you look in one direction (at a light or something), and then shine lights in your eyes so they can see the back of your eyeball?

Aside from not being able to squint, it’s really not that bad. The annoying part is not being able to read for a while afterward because your pupils are dialated.

All they do is look at you. You may also get a pressure test for glaucoma - they give you numbing eyedrops and touch the eyeball with the tip of this little pen thing. It takes all of five seconds.

On a related note, why is it that I lose my ability to focus my eyes on close objects ( < 12 inches) when my pupils are dialated? It makes it a pain to shop for new frames, since I’m nearsighted (and thus have to be quite close to the mirror to see my reflection clearly).

I worked in an opthomologists office this past summer and a retinal exam is really nothing to be afriad about (not like some of the other precedures you could be having!). The only thing about the exam is having your eyes dialated.

Please do not attempt what badmana did by driving himself. Part of my job was to call up and remind patients to get a ride from someone, because it is unlawfull, as well as being very dangerous.

Anyway, you could be getting a corneal graft, so look on the bright side!

btw I heard about something called Optomap, which we didnt have at the office, but I think its a retinal examination procedure which you dont have to use dialating drops. If you think this would be more helpful, just ask your opthomologist

Depth of field increases at small apertures. At the extreme end of the scale is the pinhole camera with a very smal aperture but no lens, yet everything for a few inches distant to infinity is in focus.

It’s dilated and ophthalmologist. And you are given plastic dark lens to wear so you are not blinded in the daylight. I wear glasses and slip them in-between the lenses and my eyes. At least, I’ve always been given them. This procedure, contrary to a prior post, is not at all painful. It’s the damn dilation that’s the problem. Don’t try to play tennis afterwards.

:smack: Of course. That makes perfect sense. I guess I just haven’t dealt enough with photography for that to have occurred to me.

I do my share of eye exams, but they are quick ones in the emergency department and not the more extensive ones done by an ophthalmologist.

You are in good company. LOTS of people have a morbid fear of having drops or lights put in their eyes. I remove a lot of foreign bodies from local factory workers, and it takes patience to do this. Most folks are flinchy. But relax. It’s not too big a deal.

In medical school, the first person I did a slit lamp exam on, a big 300 lb. worker, passed out on the floor after I shone a light in his eyes. It happens.

But really, all the doctor will do is look in your eye with a light, check your vision on an eye chart, make sure your eye muscles are working well, then dilate your pupil with a few drops of homatropine. When the pupil is big, he will ask you to put your chin on a machine and shine a light in the back of your eye. The light is bright, but not blinding, although you will see an afterimage of the veins on the back of your eye, which is kind of weird. Your vision will remain somewhat fuzzy for three hours (longer if they use atropine instead of homatropine). It will return to normal within a day.

Not to scare the OP with a horror story, but…

After my last retinal exam my eyes refused to undialate! I was laid up for three days in a darkened room because I couldn’t bear the light. The ophthalmologist said that sometimes blue-eyed people like me stay dialated for longer than they’re supposed to. What’s up with that?

Echoing what other posters said: it’s not a big deal. I can’t stand it, but have been having it done 2x a year since I was 6 months old, so I’m pretty used to it.

For me at least, the dilating drops really sting. Don’t know if this is normal, as I’ve got extremely over-sensitive eyes. For me, the sting fades after about 45 seconds, but it can be intense.

Put the drops in, and the doc will probably send you back out to the waiting room for the drops to take effect. Make the best of those first few minutes. The process is described above, no sense in repeating it.

Bring sunglasses, unless its a night appointment, of course. Your eyes will be quite sensitive.

For me, the effects usually last anywhere from 12-20 hours. It can be a real annoyance, but it’s a relatively pain-free process. Unless you absently get up in the middle of the night a few hours later, and absently turn on an extremely bright lamp while looking right at the bulb. Don’t do that, and you should be fine.

From the comments here, it seems that people can’t function with dilated pupils. That’s surprising to me. When my pupils are dilated (on some drugs like pot or acid), I see much BETTER (although the dimensions get “squashed” a bit). Or does this procedure dilate it a lot more?

WAY more. The drops dilate the pupils to the maximum extent possible, and bright light is quite uncomfortable to look at. Even under dimmer light, details are difficult to discern for a few hours afterwards.

If the dark glasses that they give you are the kind that wrap around the corners and protect your eyes from the sides, be sure to save them. They are great for travelling.

This test has never been painful for me and my eyes readjust after just a few hours. But please don’t drive yourself afterwards!

Yeah, dilating drops do sting. In the ophthalmology office I work in, we use two drops for dilation, and I’m about 90-some percent sure that the first drop slightly numbs the eye so the dilation ones don’t sting so much.

I was dilated within the last month to check out my retina after I saw flashing lights (it was just an ocular migraine, not a retinal detachment or anything similar), and it was like the other people here mentioned - bright, nearly painful light, look all over when the doctor says to. Pressure check, usually a pen-like instrument (Tonopen) is used. I’ve seen these exams done a few times a week for nearly a year now, and they’re really easy. The lingering dilation is the worst part.

Wow, thanks y’all!!

I will be seeing an actual real-live retinal specialist, not a regular opthalmologist. I just had a vision check done with my regular optometrist. Do I have to have that part of it done again? (I’m asking because, well, they’re forwarding the records on from my optometrist, and absolutely none of my medical deductible has been met this year. I will be paying for every last cent of this.) I’m seeing said specialist because after a car accident 2 months ago, floaters were a LOT more noticeable (well just one I think, but it makes up in noticeability what it lacks in numbers.) I haven’t had bright flashing lights, a dark curtain, the “spider web effect”, or any of the signs of detached retina (I think I would have figured that one out by now anyway!) I’m prone to ocular migraines though.
Naturally all this happened at the worst imaginable time, when I’m in pre-production for four, count 'em, four films, proving once again that Murphy was an optimist.

Oh and also. It didn’t let me edit the post so I’m double-posting, which I get on people for on the board I mod, so sorry about that.

I’m planning to wear my contacts and then take them out for the exam. How soon after the exam can you put them back in? I don’t have current prescription glasses, since I wear them so seldom.

We don’t allow member to edit posts because of the potential for abuse. Posting again, if you have something to add (as you did) is perfectly OK here. So, no need to apologize.

DrMatrix - GQ Moderator

The last couple of times I had my eyes dilated I was given another kind of drops after the exam to make my pupils constrict more quickly. They weren’t back to normal immediately or anything but it helped a lot.