5 Potential Causes Of Abnormally Dilated Pupils

Normally, pupils only dilate when they are in dim lighting. This expansion allows your eye to take in more light than usual, increasing your ability to see in the dark. However, when one or both of your pupils remains dilated under typical light, you can have a painful and uncomfortable experience. While there are many conditions that can result in improperly dilated eyes, these are five of the most common causes to discuss with your eye doctor. 

1. Stress

Your eyes do not only react to fluctuating light levels. In fact, your pupils can respond to a variety of emotional states as well, including during periods of stress or anxiety. Dilation in one or both eyes is a common symptom of PTSD, but it can also manifest through the day-to-day stress of school, work or raising a family. Although you should still see a doctor to rule out more serious conditions, you may simply need to slow down your lifestyle to get your eyes back to normal. 

2. Drug Side-Effects 

Both prescription and illegal drugs can cause eye dilation as a side-effect. For illegal drugs, this reaction usually indicates the use of methamphetamines or cocaine. There are many prescription drugs that could be behind your eye troubles, so check the potential side effects of any drugs you are currently taking and then consult with your doctor. 

3. Nervous System Problems

Your pupils' dilation is controlled by your sympathetic nervous system, which also regulates the functions associated with the body's "fight-or-flight" reflex. If your nervous system has been harmed due to disease or injury, it may no longer be able to control your pupils effectively. Concussions are an especially common source of this type of unwanted dilation, so if you have hit your head recently, seek a doctor immediately. 

4. Seizures

Epileptics often notice that their eyes dilate frequently, particularly before and during a seizure. Partial, or focal, seizures are the most common type of seizure for individuals under the age of 65 and are typically associated with dilated pupils. If you notice that you have trouble remembering things, are hallucinating or experience involuntary muscle contractions, you should seek a diagnosis to manage your symptoms. 

5. Brain Tumors

The most serious cause of abnormal pupil dilation is the presence of a brain tumor. Abnormal growths in the brain can make you lose basic abilities like blinking and pupil response, as well as cause headaches, drowsiness, hallucinations, high blood pressure and an irregular pulse. Brain tumor patients usually exhibit uneven pupil dilation, meaning one side is wider than the other. Because brain tumors need to be treated as quickly as possible, you should schedule an appointment to get a professional opinion as soon as you begin to notice symptoms. Quality Eye Care is an eye doctor's office in your area that can give you more information.