A slit lamp is a microscope with a bright light used during an eye exam. It gives your ophthalmologist a closer look at the different structures at the front of the eye and inside the eye. It’s a key tool in determining the health of your eyes and detecting eye disease.
There is no special preparation needed before a slit lamp exam. However, your eyes will be dilated (widened) with dilating drops. If your eyes are dilated, you should not drive after your exam. Your vision will be blurry, and your eyes will be highly sensitive to light for several hours. Bring sunglasses to the exam and plan to have someone drive you home.
Your doctor will have you sit in the exam chair in front of the slit lamp. You will be asked to place your chin in the chin rest and your forehead against the forehead band. This keeps your head steady during the exam. Your doctor may use eye drops that contain a yellow dye to help see problems with the front of the eye. Dilating drops may also be used to widen your pupil for a better look at the back of the eye. Your doctor will sit down facing you and look through the microscope at your eyes. He or she will then turn on the slit lamp and focus a narrow, high-intensity beam of light towards your eye. Although the light is very bright, it will not cause any damage to your eye and should not cause any pain. Here's what your doctor will look at:
The slit lamp also gives a detailed view of the back of the eye as well. To do this, your ophthalmologist will dilate (widen) your pupils with dilating eye drops. With your pupils fully dilated, he or she can see:
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