When a light is shined on the eye, an automatic reflex closes the pupil. To counteract this reflex, pupil dilating eye drops are used to permit a thorough examination of the interior of the eye. Depending on the type of exam and patient age, we frequently use an eye spray that is especially formulated for Dr. Keys. The spray is administered to closed eyelids. (That’s right – the patient gets eye drops with their eyes closed!)

The drops, in addition to dilating the pupil, temporarily relax the eye focusing muscle to permit an accurate determination of farsightedness, nearsightedness and astigmatism without relying on the patient’s cooperation or understanding. Therefore, even small children and developmentally disabled individuals can be evaluated for glasses. Eye drops usually take effect within 20 to 45 minutes.

Dilating eye drops produce a mild stinging sensation (almost like soapy water) for just 5-10 seconds. We find our patients are cooperative when they know what to expect. Please wait until the day of the exam to explain that eye drops feel similar to the feeling that is experienced when swimming in a pool and getting splashed in the face…it will sting for a few seconds and then it subsides. Small infants may develop flushed cheeks and feel a little warm to the touch. No treatment is required for this small reaction. Other sensitivities to eye drops are most unusual. Please let us know if your child has experienced any reactions in the past.

Dilated pupils, blurred vision (primarily for close objects) and light sensitivity are normal after eye drops and may continue in some children for 24-48 hours. This temporary condition does not damage their eyes. Sunglasses may be worn to relieve light sensitivity. If vision is still blurred upon returning to school, send an explanatory note to your child’s teacher. Older patients should not drive until vision has returned to normal. Depending on your child’s level of comfort, it is ok to swim, play soccer, do homework, etc. after drops.