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Why Does Your Eye Doctor Dilate Your Pupils for an Eye Exam?

If you’ve been following the guideline to have regular eye exams, then you’re probably familiar with having your pupils dilated. Why does your eye doctor do this?

By dilating your pupils, the eye doctor can get a better view of your inner eye structures – so the eye exam is more comprehensive and more detailed. While the back of your eye can be seen through an undilated pupil, it cannot be examined as fully.

A full evaluation of your macula, retina and optic nerve is possible through dilated pupils. In many common eye diseases, such as macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma, these are the parts of the eye that exhibit signs of a problem. Also, health conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes can often be detected on these parts of the eye.

What happens when the eye doctor dilates your pupils?

Your eye doctor or a technician will insert eye drops into your eyes; it takes 20 – 30 minutes for them to take full effect. Then, your eye doctor will use a lighted microscope to inspect your eyes.

Initially, you may feel a slight stinging when the drops are first inserted, but the discomfort is typically minor and short-lived. For a few hours afterwards, your eyes will be extra-sensitive to light and vision may be slightly blurred. Wearing sunglasses can help manage this sensitivity. Dilation usually wears off within four to six hours.

Even though getting your pupils dilated for an eye exam may feel like a nuisance, it enables your eye doctor to check your ocular health and overall body health with much more accuracy. So the benefits are clear! Contact an expert eye doctor near you to schedule an eye exam.

At Washington Eye Doctors, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 202-335-5032 or book an appointment online to see one of our Washington, D.C. eye doctors.

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3 Ways Diabetes Can Affect Your Vision and Eyes

Did you know that people with diabetes are 20 times more likely to get eye diseases than those without it? There are three major eye conditions that diabetics are at risk for developing: cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy. To prevent these sight-threatening diseases, it’s important to control your blood sugar level and have your eyes checked at least once a year by an eye doctor.

But First, What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease that is associated with high blood glucose levels. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, helps our cells get energy from the sugars we eat. Diabetes develops when the body doesn’t produce or respond to insulin effectively, leaving too much sugar in the blood stream instead. Over time, diabetes can lead to potentially irreversible ocular damage and poor eyesight. However, by taking care of your blood sugar levels and your eyes, you can prevent vision loss.

Annual eye exams are recommended for everyone, but routine screenings are even more important for diabetics. Eye doctors may send diabetic eye health reports to a patient’s primary care physician or internist to adjust medication as needed to prevent complications.

What’s the Link Between Vision and Diabetes?

Blurred vision or fluctuating eyesight clarity is often one of the first noticeable signs that diabetes has begun to affect your eyes. Sometimes, fluid leaking into the eye causes the lens to swell and change shape. This, in turn, makes it difficult for the eyes to focus, resulting in fuzzy vision. Such symptoms can indicate that an eye disease is developing, or may simply be due to imbalanced blood sugar levels which can be rectified by getting your blood sugar back to healthy levels.

If you start to notice blurry vision, make an appointment with Dr. Michael Rosenblatt as soon as possible.

The 3 Ways Diabetes Impacts Vision

Cataracts

While cataracts are extremely common and a part of the natural aging process, those with diabetes tend to develop cataracts earlier in life. Characterized by a clouding or fogging of the lens within the eye, cataracts impede light from entering the eye, causing blurred vision and glares. The best treatment is cataract surgery, which is very safe and effective.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma refers to a group of eye diseases characterized by optic nerve damage. Since it tends to impact peripheral vision first, glaucoma often goes unnoticed until significant damage has occurred. However, routine glaucoma screenings can detect warning signs; early treatment can prevent disease progression and vision loss.

Although there is no true cure for glaucoma, most glaucoma patients successfully manage it with special eye drops, medication, and on occasion, laser treatment or other surgery. The earlier glaucoma is diagnosed and managed, the better the outcome.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy occurs when the small blood vessels on your retina (capillaries) become weakened and then balloon (microaneurysm) due to poorly controlled blood sugar levels. The resulting poor blood circulation in the back of the eye causes more abnormal blood vessels to grow, which also bleed or leak fluid, and can lead to scar tissue, retinal detachment and even blindness, over time.

Often there are no symptoms until the advanced stages of diabetic retinopathy, where patients may begin to see spots and missing patches in their vision. Retinopathy can be treated through surgery and eye injections, but the best way to prevent this disease from progressing is to regularly have your eyes screened.

The good news is that diabetic eye disease can often be prevented with early detection, proper management of your diabetes and regular diabetic eye exams. Contact Washington Eye Doctors in Washington, D.C. to set up your eye doctor’s appointment today.

Your Eyes Are the Windows to Your Health

Your eyes aren’t just the windows to your soul — they can also reveal valuable information about your general health beyond whether you need glasses, including: diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. It is not unusual for people to come in for an eye exam just to check their eyesight and then have certain health issues or predispositions picked up by the optometrist. 

Eye Exams and Your Health

Eye examinations can help doctors detect general health conditions early enough to intervene. Advanced screenings enable eye doctors to better predict cardiovascular incidents like stroke, and possibly detect signs of mental changes such as Alzheimer’s. Read below to learn how eye exams can unveil a whole lot more than just eye health.

Brain Cancer & Stroke

Because of the similarities between the blood vessels in the eye and brain, an eye doctor can occasionally detect an issue taking place in the brain by examining the blood vessels in the eyes. If swelling or shadows in the eye is observed, it may indicate a serious condition in the brain, like a tumor, or clots that might result in a stroke.

Diabetes

Diabetes can cause damage to the blood vessels in the retina at the back of the eye, resulting in Diabetic Retinopathy (DR) and Diabetic Macular Edema (DME). If an optometrist detects leaky blood vessels in the eye, the patient would be advised to see a doctor to help control their blood sugar. Changes are gradual, and they start before visual symptoms are noticed. The earlier diabetic eye disease is managed, the better the chances are of preserving eyesight. 

Hypertension

High blood pressure, characterized by having too much pressure in the blood vessels, can be detected during an eye exam, sometimes even before it’s diagnosed by your regular doctor. The damaged blood vessels lead to swelling, hemorrhages, and leaking — all of which can be observed in the eyes. According to the CDC, hypertension “the silent killer” affects nearly 1 in 3 adults, and up to a whopping 20% of those don’t even know they have it. So early detection at an eye doctor’s evaluation can be truly life-saving.

High Cholesterol 

Eye exams can also detect a buildup of cholesterol. High cholesterol is among the easiest conditions to spot during a complete eye exam, as the cholesterol deposits manifest on the front of the eye, appearing as a thin, gray rim around the cornea. It can also be detected in the retina by assessing artery and vein patterns.

These deposits may indicate the current or future development of Retinal Blood Vessel Occlusion, a condition where blockages restrict blood flow to the back of the eye, causing temporary or permanent vision loss. 

Heart Conditions

In some cases, heart conditions associated with a buildup of plaque in the carotid artery in the heart can also lead to deposits that clog the ocular arteries in the eye. If an optometrist detects such changes to the vascular structure at the back of the eye, he or she will typically recommend going to a specialist.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Sudden vision loss may be attributed to Multiple Sclerosis (MS). While the optometrist can recognize signs indicating the presence of MS, such as the color and appearance of the optic nerve, such cases will be referred for further testing to confirm the diagnosis.

Thyroid

Thyroid disease can make itself apparent through the eyes in several ways. The thyroid gland controls the hormones that regulate tear production so some thyroid disorders can cause dry eye disease. Additionally, overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) can make the extraocular muscles enlarge and stiffen, causing bulging eyes — an indicator of Graves’ disease. 

Inflammation

Systemic conditions that are associated with inflammation in the body can have an inflammatory effect on the eyes. Uveitis, for example, causes eye inflammation, redness, and blurred vision, and tends to occur in people with lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and other autoimmune diseases. 

Cancer

Breast cancer, leukemia, and other metastatic cancers are occasionally discovered during an eye evaluation. In addition to brain cancer mentioned above, melanoma and basal cell carcinoma (skin cancer) can be detected, and eye doctors can also diagnose lymphoma and other eye tumors. Eye exams save lives.

What the Future Holds 

Alzheimer’s 

Recent studies show that a non-invasive and precise imaging device called Octa (optical coherence tomography angiography) can signal the presence of eye changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Because the retina is in many ways an extension of the brain, the altered blood vessels at the back of the eye offer a glimpse into the changes taking place within the brain.

Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s Disease can often be misdiagnosed as its early symptoms are characteristic of other conditions. Research has shown that subtle eye tremors, an early Parkinson’s marker, could be detectable using advanced eye exam technology. One day soon, practitioners may send patients to an eye doctor to test for this and other diseases.

Your Eye Doctor’s Appointment Could Change Your Life

So the next time you visit Dr. Michael Rosenblatt at Washington Eye Doctors in Washington, D.C., remember that a comprehensive eye exam can do more than determine your eyeglasses or contacts prescription. Dr. Michael Rosenblatt can evaluate your eyes for existing or potential health issues, and communicate them to your primary care physician for the best possible care. By knowing that you’re at risk for a certain disease, you can take precautions early on and manage the condition as needed. After all, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Is There a Cure for Nearsightedness?

Our Washington, D.C., District of Columbia, eye doctors explain what can be done about myopia in kids

Many parents wonder if there is a cure for nearsightedness, also known as myopia. Or maybe there’s a treatment to eliminate a child’s need for stronger glasses each year?

In response – there is presently no scientific evidence to back up the claims of various miracle treatments to cure myopia. Programs that attest to the power of eye exercises to reverse myopia and naturally treat nearsightedness are not supported by any well-designed independent research.

However, many recent studies do suggest that kids’ myopia can be controlled (not cured) by slowing its progression. An eye exam is the first necessary step to determine your child’s candidacy for myopia control. At Washington Eye Doctors, our eye doctors perform thorough pediatric eye exams to assess whether myopia control is recommended.

Myopia is not an eye disease

Nearsightedness is a refractive error caused by the elongation of the eyeball. Due to this elliptical shape, light that enters the eye doesn’t focus on the retina at the back of the eye. Instead, light is focused in front of the retina, thereby blurring the sight of any objects in the distance. Prescription glasses and contact lenses offer effective treatment for nearsightedness, but they are not a cure – and they don’t prevent myopia from getting worse.

Intro to myopia control

Myopia control treatments can lead to changes in the structure and focusing ability of the eye, thereby slowing the progression of myopia. Why is this important? Because myopia control can help prevent your child from developing high levels of nearsightedness, which not only require thick eyeglasses lenses – but have also been linked to serious eye problems later in life, such as a detached retina and cataracts.

Types of myopia control

At our Washington, D.C., District of Columbia, eye care center, we administer kids’ eye exams gently and comprehensively to diagnose their precise vision prescription and determine the most suitable type of myopia control.

Currently, there are four types of myopia control treatment in use:

1.Orthokeratology

Ortho-k lenses are specialized rigid gas permeable contacts that are worn only while sleeping. They correct refractive error by gently reshaping the cornea temporarily. Typically, ortho-k is used to enable people with nearsightedness to see clearly during the daytime – without any prescription eyewear. But eye doctors are increasingly using orthokeratology as a means for myopia control in kids. Studies suggest that myopic kids who wear ortho-k lenses for a few years may have less myopia as adults, in contrast to children who wear regular glasses or contacts during the years when myopia can progress rapidly.

2.Multifocal Contact Lenses

Multifocal contact lenses have different lens powers in different zones. While the conventional use of multifocal contacts is to correct presbyopia, eye care professionals have found that these specialty lenses can also be an effective method of myopia control for kids.

3.Multifocal Eyeglasses

Multifocal glasses are another option for controlling nearsightedness in children, but the results are not as impressive as with other types of myopia control.

4.Prescription eye drops

Prescription eye drops can be used to relax the eye’s focusing mechanism, thereby controlling myopia. Research studies have shown that during the first year of treatment with prescription eye drops, the progression of nearsightedness dropped by an average of 81%. However, the effects seem to diminish after the first year of treatment. Prescription eye drops are also associated with specific uncomfortable side effects, which is one reason why many eye doctors are hesitant to prescribe this treatment for kids.

Eye exams enable early detection of nearsightedness

The best way for your kid to benefit from myopia control is to diagnose nearsightedness as early as possible! Even if a child isn’t complaining about any visual problems, regular pediatric eye exams are critical – especially if there’s a family history of nearsightedness. The sooner myopia is detected, the sooner our Washington, D.C., District of Columbia, eye doctors can assess candidacy for myopia control.

At Washington Eye Doctors, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 202-335-5032 or book an appointment online to see one of our Washington, D.C. eye doctors.

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Nearsightedness & Farsightedness – What Do They Mean?

Your Washington, D.C., District of Columbia, eye doctor explains

Nearsightedness and farsightedness, officially termed myopia and hyperopia – respectively, are both refractive vision conditions. That means they are both caused by refractive errors, which are ocular disorders that affect the eye’s ability to properly focus light on the retina. The retina is the membrane that forms the back layer of the eyeball.

Nearsightedness occurs when the light that enters the eye falls short of the retina. Typically, this happens because the eyeball is elongated. As a result, objects in the distance look blurry to people with myopia. However, vision of near objects remains unaffected. Nearsightedness generally develops during childhood, deteriorates during the teenage years, and stabilizes once the person reaches young adulthood.

Farsightedness is basically the opposite of nearsightedness. Usually, it results from having an eyeball that is too short. As a result, light is focused behind the retina instead of directly on it. For people with mild to moderate farsightedness, close objects appear blurred, while objects in the distance are still sharp. However, high amounts of farsightedness may interfere with clear vision at all distances. Children are typically born farsighted, but as they grow and develop, their eyeballs lengthen and the hyperopia decreases.

Diagnosis of myopia and hyperopia – visit an eye doctor near you

While nearsightedness and farsightedness can cause symptoms, such as headaches, squinting, eye strain, and fatigue, these symptoms alone are not sufficient for making a firm diagnosis.

Both of these vision conditions can be detected during an eye exam performed by a qualified eye doctor. As a part of every eye exam, visual acuity will be tested. You will need to read a basic Snellen eye chart, and your eye doctor will test refraction in order to determine your precise vision prescription for glasses or contact lenses.

Treatment for nearsightedness and farsightedness

Corrective eyeglasses and contact lenses are both effective ways to treat nearsightedness and farsightedness. The prescription lenses work by altering the path of light as it bends into the eyes.

When children experience progressive myopia, a variety of methods for myopia control may be suitable. Myopia control treatment can eliminate the need to buy new glasses or contacts yearly, and it can help reduce children’s risk for eye disease in the future. To find out about your child’s candidacy for myopia control, consult a qualified eye doctor and book an eye exam near you.

It is common for myopia and hyperopia to stabilize once people reach their twenties. Once that occurs, refractive laser surgeries – such as LASIK and PRK – become options for treatment. These procedures can permanently resolve nearsightedness and farsightedness by reshaping the cornea to focus light properly on the retina.

Can vision therapy help with nearsightedness and farsightedness?

Clear and fully functional vision depends on more than just sharp visual acuity. Eyesight, the brain, and visual pathways all need to work in sync with each other. When this doesn’t happen, a person can find it difficult to see – even with 20/20 vision. That’s where the role of vision therapy enters the picture.

Vision therapy helps people with particular eye conditions develop the visual skills needed for clear sight, such as:

  • Strabismus (crossed eyes)
  • Amblyopia (lazy eye)
  • Computer vision
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Learning related visual problems (poor eye teaming and focusing)
  • Sports vision improvement

Optic devices and custom-designed exercises are used to strengthen the eye-brain connection, so eye mobility is enhanced. The person learns how to efficiently process visual cues that the eyes send to the brain. Therefore, vision therapy will not help to treat a refractive vision condition, such as nearsightedness and farsightedness.


At Washington Eye Doctors, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 202-335-5032 or book an appointment online to see one of our Washington, D.C. eye doctors.

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Vision Screening vs. Comprehensive Eye Exam

Is there a difference between these types of eye exams?

Many people believe that stopping in at their local pharmacy for a vision screening is the same as having their yearly eye exam. Sadly, this is a mistake that can be risky for your vision! You may walk out of the store knowing your eyeglasses prescription, but a vision screening will not give you any insight into the health of your eyes. Similarly, a vision screening done in school for children won’t reveal the presence of many eye conditions that can interfere with learning.

To see all that you and your children have to gain from a comprehensive eye exam, book an appointment with our Washington, D.C.. We provide precise, detailed eye exams at Washington Eye Doctors.

Look at the difference between a vision screening and comprehensive eye exam

What is a vision screening?

A vision screening is very basic, typically done by someone who is not a specially trained eye care professional, such as a nurse or DMV worker. Simple no-frills and low-tech testing equipment is used, including letter and number charts. It is a relatively short eye exam that can find the presence of a vision problem – which usually indicates a need to visit your eye doctor for a more thorough examination.

How should you relate to passing a vision screening? Think about it like when your doctor measures your blood pressure. It could be in the normal parameters, but that doesn’t rule out all health problems. It’s just information about one specific aspect of your overall health. To evaluate your total health, you need a complete physical check-up. In other words, both kids and adults can pass a vision screening but still have significant problems with their eye health and vision.

What is a comprehensive eye exam at our Washington, D.C. eye care center?

You’re in good hands when you come to Washington Eye Doctors for a comprehensive eye exam! Our optometrists are highly skilled and experienced, and we use specialized advanced technologies to ensure the most accurate results possible. The eye exam will last between 30 minutes to an hour. Key procedures include checking visual acuity, dilation to check eye health, tonometry, and binocular vision testing.

Usually, we’ll begin by asking for an overview of your general health, eye history, medications, and family eye history. These facts about who you are will help us to personalize your eye exam to address your unique condition. Then, your eyes will be dilated so our eye doctor can see an optimal view of your inner eye structures. In addition to the signs of ocular disease, such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, and cataracts, an eye exam can also spot many diseases way before they cause symptoms elsewhere in your body.

We’ll look for any signs of disease or abnormality. With patients of all ages, particularly children, our eye doctor will also pay close attention to the different parts of functional vision, such as eye teaming, focusing skills, and hand-eye coordination. When these problems are left untreated, children can suffer from a range of learning difficulties. That’s a good reason why comprehensive eye exams – which involve so much more than a vision screening – are essential at all ages!

Customized comprehensive eye exams in Washington, D.C.

You are unique and so are your eyes! That’s why our eye doctors will design your eye exam to satisfy your vision and ocular health needs, considering factors such as your age, any visual complaints, health issues, and lifestyle requirements.

At Washington Eye Doctors, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 202-335-5032 or book an appointment online to see one of our Washington, D.C. eye doctors.

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How much digital screen time is OK for kids?

Tips for avoiding computer vision syndrome

Kids and their smartphones go hand in hand, rarely to be separated nowadays. It’s typical to find children of all ages hiding under their covers at night with Alto’s Adventure, or texting instead of studying for tomorrow’s test. Ever wonder what all this digital screen time is doing to their vision? While totally banishing all screen time from your child’s day is unrealistic, eye care professionals recommend setting limits to keep eyes healthy. How much screen time is advised?

Our kids’ eye care specialists in Washington, D.C., explain about the hazards of spending too many minutes each day gazing at a digital screen, and how it can lead to computer vision syndrome.

Why is it unhealthy to look at digital screens?

Blue light is emitted by the digital screens of computers and all mobile devices. Over time, this type of shorter-wavelength, higher-energy visible light may be dangerous for your retina. Blue light has been linked to the development of certain eye diseases in the future, such as cataracts and macular degeneration.

Blue light is also emitted by the sun and is integral for regulating your body’s sleep-wake cycle. However, by adding hours of daily blue light exposure from digital tech (especially at the wrong times of day – such as late at night), it can disrupt a person’s normal rhythms. For kids, the resulting daytime drowsiness can lead to poor school performance, and an unregulated sleep schedule can lead to weight gain and health problems associated with obesity. Also, research has shown that people who don’t have a healthy pattern of activity and sleep are more likely to suffer from depression, lower levels of happiness, feelings of loneliness, and overall mood disorders.

Teens who spend excessive amounts of time using digital screens have also been found to be at a higher risk of developing symptoms of ADHD, according to a scientific study conducted in Los Angeles high schools.

How much time does your child spend using digital screens?

According to statistics compiled by Common Sense Media (a nonprofit dedicated to promoting safe technology and media for kids), the average young child in the U.S. spends the following amount of time using digital gadgets each day:

  • Children under 2 years old: 42 minutes
  • Children between 2 to 4 years old: 2.5 hours
  • Children between 5 to 8 years old: almost 3 hours

What problems can be caused by too much digital screen time?

These daily amounts are associated with a rise in kids experiencing the painful symptoms of computer vision syndrome. According to the Vision Council, 30% of parents attest that their kids suffer from the following symptoms:

  • Neck/shoulder pain
  • Headaches,
  • Dry or irritated eyes
  • Reduced attention span
  • Behavioral problems
  • Irritability

In addition to the discomfort of the above symptoms, all of them can also have a significant effect on your child’s social interactions and academic development.

Additionally, the progression of nearsightedness (myopia) has also been associated with computer vision syndrome and overexposure to electronic screens. Unbelievably, approximately half of all young adults are now nearsighted, in contrast to only 25% in the 1970s!

What’s the best way to prevent computer vision syndrome?

Limiting digital screen time for kids is an effective way to minimize blue light exposure, the risks of computer vision syndrome, and our child’s chances of developing eye health problems in the future. Institute a “no-screens” rule in your home that begins about an hour or two before bedtime. Or enforce a time limit on your child’s phone use; many time management apps are available to help with this mission.

If your kid wears prescription glasses, another effective way to block blue light is by purchasing eyeglasses with blue-light protection from our Washington, D.C., kids’ eye care collection. Several lens manufacturers produce lenses for glasses that filter out blue light. An anti-reflective blue light-blocking coating can also be applied to lenses.

If your child doesn’t need prescription eyewear, then we recommend investing in a protective blue light filter to apply to the surface of all digital screens. Many options are available, in addition to various blue-light filtering apps that you can download.

Book annual kids’ eye exams to keep watch on eye health and vision

Regular kids’ eye exams are the most dependable way to monitor your child’s ocular condition for any signs of a problem. During your appointment at Washington Eye Doctors, be sure to ask us for more information about the many ways to keep your child’s eyes safe from blue light.


At Washington Eye Doctors, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 202-335-5032 or book an appointment online to see one of our Washington, D.C. eye doctors.

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