Questions You Should Ask at an Eye Examination
Take a Friend with You
It's a good idea to have a friend or relative accompany you whenever you make a visit to an eye care specialist or any other health care provider.
This person can be your memory jogger and remind you about questions you want to ask. Your friend can also take notes about information the doctor gives you.
In this way, you are able to concentrate on what is being said and ask additional questions that stem from these discussions.
Your friend can also be an emotional support if you're feeling stressed or nervous about your appointment or eye condition.
Often, just the presence of a close friend or relative can help you feel more at ease and relieve the anxiety associated with the occasional long waiting times before the doctor sees you.
When you make your appointment, ask the doctor if you can bring a tape or digital recorder to help you remember information he or she shares with you.
In this way, you'll be able to review the conversations that took place during your appointment at a time when you feel more relaxed in the comfort of your own home.
If the doctor does not want to be recorded, ask if he or she can write down your diagnosis, including what, if any, further action you need to take.
Prepare Yourself with Questions
Make a list of your questions or concerns before your appointment with the eye doctor:
- What is the cause of my vision loss?
- What is my visual acuity (central vision)?
- Do I have a peripheral (side vision) field loss?
- Is my condition stable, or can I lose more sight?
- Do I qualify as legally blind? If so, what does legally blind actually mean?
- What new symptoms should I watch out for?
- Are there treatments for my eye condition?
- When should the treatment start and how long will it last?
- What are the benefits of this treatment and how successful is it?
- What are the risks and possible side effects associated with this treatment?
- Are there food/drugs/activities I should avoid while undergoing this treatment?
- If the treatment involves taking medication, what should I do if I miss a dose or have a reaction?
- Are other treatments available?
- What kind of tests are involved?
- What do you expect to find out from these tests and when will I know the results?
- Do the tests carry any risks or side effects?
- Will more tests be necessary later?
- Will you send the test results to my primary care physician?
- Am I entitled to any special services or benefits?
- What medical and rehabilitation resources are available to help me?
If you don't understand the answers to any of your questions, persevere!
- Ask the question again.
- Tell the doctor or technician that you didn't fully understand.
- Ask if the doctor has literature that you can take home to read and share with your family.
- Remember that the more you know about your vision, the better able you are to seek appropriate solutions, support, and benefits.
Protect Your Eyes
- Talk with your eye doctor about protecting your eyes from ultraviolet (UV) light. When you go outside, wear sunglasses and/or a wide-brimmed hat to reduce your UV exposure.
- If you are thinking of trying a new diet or changing vitamins, check with your doctor first.
- Do not take up smoking, and if you do smoke, try to stop. Tobacco chemicals damage the blood vessels behind your eyes and increase your risk of developing age-related macular degeneration. Tobacco use is also associated with other eye diseases, including cataracts and diabetic retinopathy.
- Wear protective goggles when working with tools and machinery, as well as during recreational activities.
Should I get a second opinion about my eye condition?
- The eyes and general health conditions of each individual are different and unique, and there are times when an eye doctor cannot improve a person's vision.
- If you are not satisfied with your eye doctor's responses to your concerns or questions, consider visiting another doctor and getting a second opinion about your eye condition.
- Sometimes a new doctor can provide a different perspective or explanation about a particular situation or course of treatment.