By Cheryl L. Dejewski
“One of the best ways of improving your health is to plan regular check-ups—with your doctor, dentist and eye care specialist. However, many of us procrastinate thinking, ‘if it isn’t broken, why fix it?’ Or, we are hesitant about what to do or ask. But, regular check-ups not only protect your body—they help your wallet by keeping future health costs to a minimum,” says ophthalmologist Brett Rhode, MD. He and his partners at Eye Care Specialists provide the following tips to help make the most of your next visit to an eye doctor (or other physician).
REASONS TO SCHEDULE
According to Daniel Ferguson, MD, an ophthalmologist who treats thousands of patients each year, “Poor vision or changes to your sight should not be dismissed. Have regular eye exams every two years and schedule an appointment right away if you notice concerns.” These include:
o Foggy, fuzzy or blurred vision
o Sensitivity to light and glare
o “Starbursts” around lights
o Holding items closer to view
o Needing brighter light to read
o Fading or yellowing of colors
o Difficulty judging stairs or curbs
o Difficulty seeing to drive at night
o Vision affects ability to do tasks
o Vertical lines appear wavy
o Dark or blind spots in vision
o Glasses and prescription changes don’t improve your vision
WHEN YOU SCHEDULE
1. Concisely describe any vision problems you know you have.
2. Ask if your eyes will be dilated.
Will you be able to drive yourself?
How long will your vision be affected?
3. Ask about cost & payment policies.
Do they accept Medicare, state or any other insurance(s) you have?
WHAT TO BRING
An ophthalmologist with 30 years of experience, Mark Freedman, MD, recommends that family members attend appointments to help learn and remember exam results and treatment guidelines. He also advises people to bring the following:
Eye & Health-Related Information
o Any existing eye problems
o Previous eye injuries or surgeries
o Your health condition (allergies, chronic problems, operations, etc.)
o Family history of eye problems (glaucoma, cataracts, etc.)
o Any vision-related questions
Your most recent pair of glasses and/or contact lenses. Being able to check what you are used to wearing helps your doctor to determine a new prescription that best suits you.
Any eye-related medication(s) or drop(s) you use. “This helps us evaluate how well it is working or if a change is needed in medication or dosage,” explains Michael Raciti, MD, an eye surgeon who also performs vision-saving medication injection treatment for diabetic patients.
Medicare and state or other insurance card(s).
A list of your other medications (oral, injectable, over-the-counter, and herbal). “This is especially important if you take medications for high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, infections or arthritis, since these may affect your vision and/or adversely react with certain eye medicines,” says medical optometrist David Scheidt, OD.
QUESTIONS TO ASK
A respected continuing education lecturer for fellow eye care professionals, Daniel Paskowitz, MD, PhD, encourages patients to be educated partners in their care by reading the free booklets and handouts his practice offers. He also suggests asking the following questions:
o What is my visual acuity–20/__?
o Do I have any eye disorders?
o What caused my condition?
o Is this condition hereditary? Should my family members be checked?
o How will it affect my vision and lifestyle—now and in the future?
o Should I watch for and notify you of any particular symptoms?
o What tests do I need? Why? When?
o What is the best medical/surgical treatment for me?
o When will treatment start, and how long will it last?
o What are the risks, side effects, benefits and success rates of treatment?
o Are there foods, drugs, or activities I should avoid?
o Are other treatments available?
o If I need to take a medication, what should I do if I miss a dose?
o Would diet, exercise or lifestyle changes improve my condition?
o Would eye-related vitamin and mineral supplements be helpful?
o When should I schedule my next appointment?
Eye Care Specialists’ doctors are dedicated to providing the highest quality, diabetic, glaucoma, cataract, and macular degeneration care. They frequently lecture to the public and fellow physicians and have written their own series of booklets on these conditions. Call 414-321-7035 for FREE copies. If it’s time for an eye exam or you would like a second opinion (which is typically covered by Medicare and/or insurance), Eye Care Specialists has offices on 7th & Wisconsin Ave., Mayfair Road across from the mall, or 102nd & National Ave. They also offer information at www.eyecarespecialists.net.