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What is dilated pupils: Causes and symptoms

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

Throughout history, dilated pupils have been considered a sign of beauty, a characteristic that is associated with pleasure and warmth. In part, this is because we unconsciously find people with larger pupils more likable. Beyond this, it is not the same to have large pupils than to have them very dilated. This last fact may be due to a disorder that makes the pupils act abnormally, which can be a serious threat to health.

Why do I have dilated pupils all the time ? It may be that it is common in you, but if it has happened sporadically, you should know that the cause may be in some disease. Next, at FastlyHeal , we explain the causes of pupil dilation.

Dilated pupils: causes

What we call the pupil is nothing more than a hole in the center of the eye that appears as a dark spot. Around it is the iris and covering it the cornea. The size of the pupil can increase and decrease, and the cause of this can happen is the ring of muscle fibers that, depending on how much light enters the eye, they contract or dilate.

When there is a lot of light and more light enters, the pupil contracts, an action we know as miosis, while when there is little light it increases its diameter to try to capture the maximum possible light, something known as mydriasis.

But not only the lighting intervenes in the size of the pupil, there are other factors and conditions that can alter its diameter, which can cause you to have dilated pupils all the time:

  • Emotions: the emotional factor is very important when interpreting the pupils because depending on our state of mind these are shown in one way or another. When we are angry, our pupils tend to constrict, while pleasure, joy, and sexual arousal increase in size.
  • Chemical agents: there are certain chemicals, which within our body cause different responses. An example of this is the case of chloroform, which in addition to sleeping the person makes the pupils dilate.
  • Drugs: closely related to the previous point, when we consume drugs some of the functions of our body are altered. While opiates cause the pupils to constrict, drugs such as marijuana, ecstasy, or cocaine make the pupils larger.

But beyond these three factors, there are some diseases that can manifest through dilated pupils. Later we will explain them to you.

Meaning of dilated pupils

Surely you have seen it in many movies, live or you may have even experienced it in your own flesh. After any accident or blow, one of the first actions carried out by health teams is to illuminate the eyes with a flashlight and observe the pupillary response. This is a very important fact, because if there are dilated pupils or they do not respond to the light stimulus, it is proof that there is some type of neuronal involvement. Here we explain the diseases and medical conditions that cause, among other symptoms, that you always have dilated pupils:

  • Neurological involvement : a brain tumor, brain edema, strokes or brain hemorrhages can cause an alteration in the pupils, such as dilating them. That is why before this symptom you should go to the neurologist .
  • Trigeminal neuralgia : the trigeminal is a nerve that provides sensitivity and movement to the face, so when this alteration appears, different symptoms such as migraines, acute pain, paralysis and dilated pupils occur.
  • Symmetric arreactive mydriasis : If the pupils are constantly dilated and do not contract in the light, it is a very bad symptom, as it means that there is serious brain damage. That is why before a cardiac arrest the pupils are observed to know the damage it has caused.
  • Marcus-Gunn syndrome: This syndrome is caused by a lack of nerve stimulation in a muscle of the eye or eyelid, which causes its characteristic drooping eyelid.
  • Structural injuries : if there is no neurological cause behind the alteration of the pupils, it is surely due to a structural alteration of the eye, such as a tear due to trauma, ischemia of the iris or glaucoma .
  • Adie syndrome: this is a very rare disease that affects a very small percentage of the population and is especially relevant among young women. It is due to a neuronal injury to the pupillary sphincter, the muscle responsible for dilating and contracting the pupil, and the ciliary muscle. In the vast majority of times it is caused by a viral disease, herpes infection, diabetes or trauma that affects that muscle and disables it for its proper function. This is why in general – 80% – of Adie Syndrome cases only one pupil is affected.

Other important symptoms

There are people who already have mydriatic pupils that are not due to any other alteration, others who suddenly have their pupils dilated, in these cases there are other signs and symptoms that, if they appear, may be due to a serious health problem:

  • It looks blurry or double
  • Fever appears
  • Headaches
  • Sight loss
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Eye pain
  • Neck stiffness.
  • Light sensitive eyes

If you present any of these symptoms, you should go immediately, in the same way that if you observe that your pupil undergoes sudden changes for no apparent reason.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Why do I have dilated pupils all the time , we recommend that you enter our Eyes and Vision category .

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