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J Optom. 2014 Jan-Mar;7(1):57-61. doi: 10.1016/j.optom.2013.03.001. Epub 2013 May 7.

How frequently should asymptomatic patients be dilated?

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John J Pershing Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Poplar Bluff, Missouri, USA. Electronic address:



To determine if routine dilated fundus examination (DFE) should be performed sooner than at 10-year intervals in asymptomatic patients.


Records for all patients consecutively evaluated in a one-year time frame were systematically reviewed. Of those patients who received initial DFE and were living 10 years later, records for sequential DFE were again evaluated to determine presence of clinically-significant, peripheral retinal findings. Databases were also searched in order to determine the number of patients during the same 10-year time period who developed vision or life-threatening peripheral retinal findings. The two groups were cross-matched to determine effectiveness of routine DFE.


Only 10 of 592 patients were deemed to have "clinically-significant" peripheral retinal findings--none of whom developed untoward outcomes. Of the 29 new retinal detachments and four intraocular tumors discovered during ten years of clinical follow-up, nearly 90% were symptomatic at the time of discovery. Three detachments and one tumor were detected as incidental findings in asymptomatic patients. No further treatment was recommended for the three detachments and the patient with the tumor survives, although with profound loss of vision in the involved eye.


In the absence of symptoms, routine DFE seems to have a very low yield for discovery of serious ocular events and appears to be ineffective in altering the course of incidental findings. Routine DFE is not indicated for older, asymptomatic patients--even at decade intervals. The findings of this study should be prospectively confirmed in population-based studies.


Diagnostic yield; Dilatación pupilar; Frecuencia; Frequency; Pupillary dilation; Rendimiento diagnóstico

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