Because of the value of sight, it is important to be proactive in your eye health. Taking a role in maintaining your sight and preventing its loss includes choosing a healthcare provider best suited for your needs – one that has the right training and experience, can give proper diagnosis and treatment, is informative, promotes the best possible outcome, and guides their care through genuine concern.
Getting started: How to Choose a Retina Specialist
Qualifications: Having a solid set of credentials is one quality indicator of a good healthcare provider. Making sure that the professional has the proper and adequate training to diagnose, treat, and prevent disease can help you decide which doctor will best serve your eye health needs. Your Ophthalmologist should be certified through an accredited medical institution and be licensed to practice through the respective state medical board. In addition, ophthalmologists should have had training as an intern and resident. Certificates and licensures should be displayed in conspicuous areas. You can confirm their credentials through the appropriate state board before your visit.
Experience: Experience is also a quality indicator of a healthcare provider. An ophthalmologist who has more experience will probably be better able to detect eye disease and diagnose disorders simply because they have seen more patients. The second benefit of visiting a healthcare provider with experience is the reassurance that they have maintained a practice of or ophthalmology.
You may also want to know if your eye examiner participates in medical research or medical education. An eye health professional who participates in and is current with the latest research and education of his or her field is more knowledgeable about the latest techniques in diagnosing and treating eye disease and visual disorders.
Services offered: Choosing an eye health professional who is able to provide a wide range of services is beneficial, but you also should select your provider by what services you need. One who provides fewer services may sometimes be able to provide more specialization with a service or certain diseases, like glaucoma, and retinal surgery. You should examine your eye health needs to determine which healthcare provider you should see.
Patient satisfaction: Making patients happy is very important. Knowing that patients have consumer loyalty to their healthcare provider and encourage others to see their own doctor is a very good indicator of quality.
Once you’ve seen your provider, determine if you are satisfied and comfortable with the outcome of your visit. You should be able to answer “yes” to questions like: Were you seen in a timely manner? Was the examiner thorough? Did he/she address all of your concerns and follow up with any possible complications or questions you had? Will you return? Will you recommend him/her to others?
What will happen before, during, and after the appointment?
Appointments are available 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday and occassional Saturday appointments. New patient consultations should be arranged through your primary eye doctor, with the approval of your primary care physician if required by your insurance. We limit our practice to diseases and surgery of the retina, and do not prescribe glasses or contact lenses. Upon your arrival in our office, the RASU staff will enter or update your registration and insurance information. It is very important that you have your insurance card(s) with you to avoid delays and to obtain and fill out your registration forms prior to your arrival.
What kind of exam, tests and procedures will be done?
At RASU we want you to have clear expectations of the duration and substance of your appointment. We will do whatever we can to make sure you are provided the absolute highest level of care and attention.
Depending on the complexity of your problem, your first visit with us may require over two hours. This is due to all of the necessary services being performed in our offices, rather than scheduling multiple appointments in various settings. We try to do as much as possible at your first visit for your convenience, and we try to provide the results the same day. If special diagnostic testing and/or laser treatment is necessary, you may need to be in our office for three hours. To perform an adequate retinal examination it is necessary to dilate your pupils at each visit. Because this may blur your vision for up to six hours and make your eyes sensitive to light, you should arrange to have someone drive you home. Sunglasses may make you more comfortable during your trip home following your appointment. Disposable sunglasses are available for your convenience.
An ophthalmic technician will initially greet you, and will note your present problem and record a detailed ocular and medical history. Please bring the names, addresses and phone numbers of the doctors involved in your care so we may keep them informed about your diagnosis and treatment. You will be asked for a list of your current medications. Your vision and intraocular pressures will be measured and eye drops will be used to dilate your pupils. Pupillary dilation requires up to 30 minutes and is done with virtually no pain or discomfort.
Your physician will then perform a thorough ophthalmologic and vitreoretinal examination. If necessary, additional diagnostic testing will then be done. This may include retinal photography, fluorescein angiography, ocular ultrasound and visual field testing.
Once your examination and any additional tests are completed, your physician will explain the results to you. The doctor will take all the time necessary to explain your specific problem(s) and to outline a course of action. We encourage you to bring a close family member along for the examination and explanation to be certain that all your questions are answered and that the doctor’s recommendations are fully understood. A complete consultation report will be sent to your referring eye doctor and to your medical doctor.
The results will give your eye health professional information about your overall eye health, your sight, and what prescription you will need to correct your vision.
Once you begin treatment, our staff will do absolutely everything to make sure you are comfortable, relaxed and properly prepared for your specific procedure.
Treatments and procedures may include injections, laser, and/or operating room surgery.
Laser treatments are performed in our office. It may be necessary to schedule laser treatments to be performed at a later date following your consultation visit. If the need for treatment is urgent or if you are traveling a distance that makes such future scheduling difficult for you, laser treatment may be performed on the same day as your consultation visit. In this case, the time you spend in our office may be longer than expected; we strive to accommodate your need for urgent treatment yet stay on schedule for other patients’ appointments.
If operating room surgery is required, it will be scheduled at one of our affiliated hospitals. Depending on the nature and urgency of your particular condition, surgery may be done the same day as your consultation, the following day, or scheduled at an appropriate time in the future. After surgery, you will be given complete instructions for post-operative care, which will include a quick follow-up appointment the next day.
If same-day surgery is anticipated, and you are from outside the area, we will help arrange overnight hotel accommodations for you and your family. You will need to return to one of our offices the day after surgery for you first post-operative check-up.
How long will the visit last?
For your first visit, allow two hours. That includes time to sign in and be fully examined by the doctor. From then on, your visits may be shorter.
When should I see a specialist?
You should see a specialist when referred by your physician or eye health provider for specific eye concerns. There is a wealth of information about the eyes and visual system. Specialists, because of the scope of their focus, can better pinpoint disease-related problems.
How often should I have my eyes examined?
You should visit your eye healthcare provider at least once per year, or immediately if you have any degree of sudden vision loss, eye pain, or irritation.
Should people with certain diseases see their doctor more often?
Yes. People with diabetes should see their doctor more frequently as recommended by their diabetes specialist. There are complications of diabetes associated with blindness, and early detection can prevent loss of sight, which may be irreversible. People with a family history of eye diseases such as glaucoma, macular degeneration and corneal diseases should also see their doctor more frequently as they age. As with any disorder, there is a higher risk of certain eye disorders if it is present in your family history.
Does health insurance cover the cost of vision care?
Most vision health coverage plans will cover a portion or all of the expenses associated with vision care. It is best to check with your health insurance provider to determine the limits of your coverage. If you do not have vision health insurance, some doctors may work with you to set up an affordable payment plan.
Having a complete exam with an eye specialist every one to two years is important because most eye diseases can be treated when found at an early stage. If you have health problems such as diabetes, you may need to visit your eye doctor more frequently to detect any complications.