Pupil is the black aperture located at the center of the eye. It permits the light that reaches the eye to enter the retina present at the back of the eyeball. Thus, it enables us to see things around us. Dilated pupils can be described as a condition where the pupils have widened beyond their normal size. It is also termed as mydriasis.
Dilation of the pupils is a common occurrence when you are in dark surroundings for a long time, but will return to normal size as soon as you are exposed to bright light. This is a natural response of the eyes towards dim light. In this condition, the pupils widen in darkness so that more light enters the eyes just to ensure better visibility of the image. If someone has dilated pupils even in bright environment, then it is an indication of an underlying problem.
Causes of Dilated Pupils
There are several reasons due to which you can get dilated pupils. Some of them are quite serious but others are not. The most commonly found causes are listed below:
Use of mydriatics: These medicinal eye drops are given by the eye doctors before an eye examination so that they can check the structural part of the eyes properly. Use of these eye drops may lead to dilated pupils.
Side effects of medicines: Pupils may get dilated under the influence of some illegal as well as prescription drugs. Certain prescription medicines like antidepressants, muscle relaxants, etc. can cause this problem. Those people who use cocaine, marijuana, hallucinogenic drugs, etc. tend to have bigger pupils.
Head injury: Dilated pupils can be observed after head concussion, stroke, or epilepsy. In all these conditions, the pupils are not just in dilated condition, but also fail to respond to the light.
Exposure to poison or chemicals: If the eyes come in contact with poisonous plants or harsh chemicals, then pupils tend to become enlarged.
Psychological stimuli: The iris muscles around the pupils are controlled by the central nervous system. Any kind of fear or excitement can contract these muscles and lead to dilation of pupils.
How to Get Rid of Dilated Pupils
The treatment for dilation of the pupils is absolutely based upon its cause. Any cause related to head injury requires immediate medical intervention. When a patient with dilated pupils after head injury is taken to the doctors, the patient is treated in an emergency room. The severity of the brain injury is diagnosed with MRI scan and is followed by suitable treatment. Some of these patients may have to undergo surgery.
Stroke patients require life support measures and are treated with suitable medicines to minimize any further damage to the brain. Meningitis is a bacterial infection affecting the brain and spinal cord. The infection is treated with antibiotics and is accompanied by cortisone injections, which can bring down swelling of the brain.
If it is a side effect of any medicine, then talk to your doctors, they may change the medicine. Those who are addicted to illegal drugs have to join a rehab center. If there is a persistent eye irritation in the enlarged pupils, then there are chances of an eye infection. In that case, doctors will prescribe medicated eye drops. Some people may have dilated pupils without any cause. Here, doctors prescribe special eye drops for the purpose of constriction of the pupils.
How to Cover Up and Prevent Further Damage
Apply Moisturizing Eye Drops
When some foreign particles enter the eyes, you end up rubbing them vigorously. The end result is dilated pupils. You can provide soothing relief to the pupils by applying a few drops of moisturizing eye drops. These drops are available in local pharmaceutical stores and you can use them 2-3 times a day for fast relief.
Keep Your Focus on Near Objects
When you try to focus on distant objects with dilated pupils, you are putting extra strain on your eyes. This can make the pupils larger. Therefore, you must make efforts to focus only on nearby objects. In fact, if you focus on a close object intensely, then it can help to shrink the pupils to some extent.
If you've got inflated pupils due to some fear or excitement, then you must try to soothe your tensed nerves. Taking slow and deep breaths can be very helpful in this regard. Once the feeling of agitation subsides, the size of the pupil will return to normal. You should try to relax the stomach muscles in particular. This is because it is believed that tension in the stomach muscles may cause dilation of the pupils.
Remain in a Well-lit Area
Staying in an illuminated area helps prevent further dilation of pupils. This is because in a dimly-lit setting, pupils can dilate further. So until your pupils pull back, avoid poorly-lit places.
Cover the Eyes
Wear dark sunglasses or appropriate eye wear to cover your eyes. Lighter shades will make your eyes more noticeable.
You must know that if small children get dilated pupils after an eye checkup, then affected pupils in children will take a longer time as compared to adults to get back to normal size. Those of you who face the problem of dilated pupils quite often for no definite reasons, should take proper care of their eyes. Use sunglasses while going outdoors to protect your eyes from the sun's harmful radiations.