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Dilation for Pediatric Eye Exams

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Are dilating eye drops necessary for kids?

Children’s eye exams are important for many reasons. Kids need to see clearly to learn and develop. Without sharp vision and a fully functional visual system, children can struggle with reading, writing, playing sports, and socializing confidently. If your kid falls behind in any of these normal parts of growing up, he or she may feel like a failure. Poor self-esteem leads to a mixed bag of problems, including behavioral issues and learning difficulties. So don’t be negligent when it comes to scheduling yearly eye exams for your child!

To ensure that pediatric eye exams are comprehensive and accurate, dilation is usually recommended. This means special dilating eye drops will be inserted to enlarge your child’s pupils. Learn why we perform dilation when your child has an eye exam at one of our Eye Trends offices in Conroe, The Woodlands, Spring, Greenspoint, Kingwood, and Houston, Texas.

Why insert dilating eye drops for a pediatric eye exam?

There are several important reasons for dilation, including:

  • By relaxing the focusing muscles of the eye, theeye doctorcan detect vision disorders and measure refractive error more precisely
  • Wider view of the entire eye structure; dilating eye drops enable the eye doctor to view 15% more of the inside and back of the eye, allowing a more complete evaluation of eye health and certain systemic conditions
  • Young, nonverbal kids cannot provide clear or reliable feedback about their vision, and they don’t always notice problems; dilating eye drops enable a more objective testing process

How are the dilating eye drops delivered?

Your child will tilt their head back and we will quickly place the drops into their eyes. Any excess eye drops will be wiped dry. It takes about 20-25 minutes for dilation to take full effect. During that time, you and your child will sit in the waiting area.

How long does the dilation last?

Typically, kids will have enlarged pupils for several hours. Sometimes (although rarely), the dilation might remain until the next day. If this occurs, it is a normal reaction that depends largely on the type of eye drops used and the color of the kid’s eyes.

What are the side effects of dilating eye drops?

The moment that the drops are applied, some stinging may be felt. But it passes momentarily. Until pupils return to normal size, vision may then be blurry. The effects are not too bothersome for most kids, and they can still function normally. However, they’ll have light sensitivity. To alleviate this problem, wearing sunglasses will be helpful; we’ll provide a pair of disposable sunglasses to wear after the exam. (Kids usually love them!) Generally, children can return to school afterwards, but it’s advised to make teachers aware of blurred vision. Allergic reactions are uncommon, but if they occur, red eyes and eyelid swelling may be experienced.

The value of pediatric eye exams with dilation  

In sum, a comprehensive pediatric eye exam with dilation may cause some discomfort or blurriness for your child for a few hours, but this inconvenience is definitely easier for kids to deal with than the potentially life-changing effects of growing up without clear, healthy, and functional vision.


Come visit with your kids! Our eye doctors in Conroe, The Woodlands, and Spring, Greenspoint, Kingwood, Houston, Texas, care about children’s long-lasting vision. We’re experienced in performing pediatric eye exams with dilation for all ages, from babies to teens.

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Dr. Inns is a 1982 graduate of the University of Houston College of Optometry. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Wilfred Laurier University, Canada. During his training at the University of Houston, he held positions in research and was a teaching assistant / laboratory instructor.

Postgraduate work includes therapeutic courses at Pennsylvania College of Optometry and the Optometric Glaucoma Specialist Course at the University of Texas Medical School. Dr. Inns has published in Optometry Today and Optometric Management. He also volunteers at the schools in his area.

Dr. Inns and his wife, Lynn, spend much of their spare time calling and visiting with their four boys.

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Amber Draper, Manager

As the manager of The Woodlands office, Amber Draper leads the team with the focus on patient care and assisting with their ophthalmic needs. Having over 10 years experience, Amber can aid patients with the most appropriate lens technology to match their daily needs. Everyone needs at least one pair of sun wear, especially here in Texas.

Amber is a proud graduate of Sam Houston State University with a BA in History, and a minor in Spanish.

In her spare time, she is with family, friends, and enjoying some Houston Texans Football.

Dr. Toups is a 1984 graduate of the University of Houston College of Optometry. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmacy from Northeast Louisiana University.

Being a therapeutically licensed optometrist, Dr. Toups is trained to diagnose and treat ocular conditions. He specializes in contact lenses and he is current with all refractive surgery procedures.

Dr. Toups is married, has five children and has lived in the Houston area since 1980.

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