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Cycloplegic (cyclo) Eye examinations

First of all, what is a cyclo exam?

This is a procedure which involves drops (cyclopentolate) being put in the eyes to relax the eye muscles so that the correct prescription can be obtained. This procedure is usually required in children because their eyes actively accommodate (focus in and out). A refraction is performed while the child's pupils are dilated, giving the optometrist a true prescription while the eyes are relaxed.

Why do we do it?

Some of the more common reasons are:

Fluctuating of inconsistent results. When more refraction is expected to be found ‘hiding’ Tendency for the eye/s to turn in. Children have symptoms of vision correction requirements, but do not produce the expected results.

What is involved in a cyclo exam?

Cyclopentolate drops are put into each eye 1 hour before the examination. (The drops may sting the eyes, but only for a moment.)

This allows the pupils to dilate fully for the optometrist. The drops will blur the child's vision, a normal part of the procedure by stopping the muscles accommodating (focusing in and out).

The optometrist performs the testing procedure and is able to obtain any hidden prescription.

In most cases, parents/caregivers will notice the difference in the child's ability to see between the two exams (dilated and not dilated) if a larger prescription is found.


We will recommend sunglasses are worn outdoors as they become sensitive to light while dilated. The pupil may remain large (dilated) for 24-48hrs. Vision is usually recovered within 12hrs. Your child should take the afternoon off from school/homework.

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