How Long Will My Pupils Stay Dilated After an Eye Exam?

Eye dilatation is an important and painless part of the eye exam.

Ophthalmologist putting eye drops in woman's eye
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According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, an eye exam is recommended for people starting at the age of 40. That being said, other health conditions may warrant an earlier eye exam, like having diabetes, high blood pressure, or a family history of eye disease. 

A key part of a comprehensive eye exam is dilation of the eye. Dilatation or widening of the pupil (the center part of the iris of your eye) allows an eye doctor to look carefully inside your eye.

Eye drops are placed in each eye so your eye structures like the retina, macula, and optic nerve can be examined closely using a shiny light and magnifying lens. 

While pupil dilation is not painful, it can be visually uncomfortable to have your pupils widened. Your vision will be blurry, and your eyes will be sensitive to the sun—thi is why it is important to wear sunglasses after your eye exam. 

With that, you may wonder how long your pupils will stay dilated after an eye exam.

Eye Dilation After Examination

After a dilated eye exam, your pupils will normally remain dilated for about three to four hours, sometimes longer. This time varies according to the type of drop the doctor uses and the color of your eyes.

Children are often dilated with stronger drops in order to improve the accuracy of the examination. It is not uncommon for some children to wake up the next morning with dilated pupils.

Dark-colored eyes, however, tend to have very short dilation periods, whereas light-colored eyes may stay dilated up to eight hours.

A Word From Verywell

This all being said, if you feel that your eyes are remaining dilated for an abnormally long period of time, contact your eye doctor.


National Eye Institute. (May 2012). What is a comprehensive dilated eye exam? 

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