At Southside Medical Center in Atlanta, GA, we understand the importance of your eye health for your overall quality of life. As your vision goes, your ability to perform certain tasks, like driving, goes. This can affect your independence. Today, we’re taking a closer look at what you should ask your optometrist, like whether someone who specializes in optometry or ophthalmology is right for you.
What Questions Should You Ask Your Optometrist?
Is Someone Who Specializes in Optometry or Ophthalmology Right for Me?
When you schedule your eye exam, you may want to ask whether you could benefit the most from meeting with someone specializing in optometry or ophthalmology. You will only need to see an ophthalmologist if you think you are suffering from an eye disease or you need eye surgery for some other reason. If you need an eye exam to ensure your eyes are still healthy, you should meet with an optometrist.
What Can I Do To Maintain the Health of My Eyes?
You also may want to ask your optometrist what you can do to keep your eyes healthy. If you are experiencing any concerning symptoms, we can advise you on steps you can take at home to slow down the progression of your problem or treat your symptoms conservatively. For example, you may benefit from drinking more water and eating more omega-3 fatty acids if you find your eyes are often dry throughout the day. We can also advise you on effective antihistamines.
Another effective step you can take to maintain the health of your eyes is to not smoke. There is an abundance of evidence that nicotine consumption can result in such eye problems as cataracts, damage to the optic nerve, and age-related macular degeneration. Furthermore, according to the National Eye Institute, the leading cause of blindness in the country is macular degeneration. Mitigate your risk of developing this condition by wearing sunglasses during the day.
What Is Causing My Symptoms?
You should also consider writing down any eye symptoms you are experiencing in addition to questions you want to ask your optometrist. You can expect to get the most out of your eye exam if you write down what symptoms you’re experiencing, when they occur, and what you do to improve them. For example, we should know if you experience itchiness when you walk past azaleas or rhododendrons and your symptoms improve when you take a fast-acting antihistamine.
As another example, you should take note of eye dryness or sensations of strain that occur after staring at a screen for too long. Also make note of any discomfort you’re experiencing, regardless of whether it is caused by exposure to bright light at night, contact lenses, or something else.
Will You Need To Dilate My Eyes?
You also may benefit from asking your optometrist if your eyes need to be dilated. Most of the time, we do need to dilate the pupils to get information on your eye health during your eye exam. It’s a good idea to ask this question in advance of your eye exam, so you can arrange for a ride home. You also may want to request the rest of the day off from work if you have to look at a computer monitor or work in a bright environment.
It is a very good idea to arrange for someone to drive you home if your eyes are dilated. If you can’t get a ride after your appointment, make sure you have very dark sunglasses to protect yourself from bright UV light. Also, you may want to wait for a while after your appointment to drive. If you have concerns about your ability to see, play it safe.
Do You Have My Complete Medical History?
Your medical history plays a significant role in accurately identifying eye problems. Your medical history also plays a significant role in your risk of developing certain eye conditions in the future. Even if you sign all of the necessary release forms for your new eye doctor to receive your complete medical history, they may not have your up-to-date history. Confirm that they have all of the information they need to make accurate diagnoses and risk assessments.
What Tests Will You Be Performing?
If you do not need to schedule a routine eye exam, you may want to know which tests your optometrist will be performing and why each test is important. If you feel anxious about going to the eye doctor because you’re not sure what to expect, ask us as many questions as you need to in order to put your mind at ease.
How Often Should I Have My Eyes Examined?
If you’re between 20 and 39 years old and relatively healthy, you should schedule an eye exam twice every decade. Once you reach the age of 40, you should schedule an eye exam every two to four years until you reach the age of 54 if you remain in relatively good health. Between the ages of 55 and 64, assuming you are relatively healthy, you should come in for an eye exam every one to three years.
Once you reach the age of 65, you should have your eyes examined every year or two. If you are not the picture of perfect health, you should strongly consider scheduling eye exams more often. Furthermore, you should schedule more frequent vision tests if you have a family history of eye disease. Moreover, you should schedule an appointment sooner if you are experiencing any eye-related symptoms that are worrying you, like blurry vision or dark spots.
Why Should I Attend Regular Eye Exams?
It is important to attend regular eye exams because your eye health is a strong indicator of your overall health. For example, if you see dark spots in your vision, you may suffer from hypertension and not know it. As another example, a look at the blood vessels in your eye can identify a number of serious medical conditions besides hypertension, like:
- Macular degeneration
- High cholesterol
The sooner medical conditions are diagnosed, as a general rule, the better the prognosis is. Medical conditions that are discovered when they are in their early stages are more likely to be treated successfully. Furthermore, symptoms tend to not be as bad while medical conditions are still progressing. You may not even know that your body is struggling with an illness.
How Often Should My Kids Have Eye Exams?
For the most part, your children’s pediatrician will keep an eye out for their eye health during the first 36 months of their lives. They can make sure there aren’t such problems as a lazy eye or crossed eyes. However, you should schedule a comprehensive eye exam for your children by the time they are five or six years old.
You may want to schedule an eye exam with an optometrist when your kids are only four if they have a high risk of developing eye problems. For example, you may want to have your kids’ eyes tested early and often if you or another one of your children has strabismus or amblyopia.
What Usually Happens During an Eye Exam?
During a comprehensive eye exam, your vision will be tested. You will be asked to read letters off of an eye chart from various distances to determine how clear your vision is from a distance and near an object. We will also test how good your 3D vision is, how far your peripheral vision reaches, and good your perception of color is.
Moreover, you can expect us to evaluate how healthy your eyes are. To do this, we will most likely need to dilate your pupils with special eye drops so we can better check your retinas and other hard-to-see parts of your eyes for glaucoma, cataracts, and other conditions. We will also ask you about all of the drugs and supplements you currently take, your family medical history, and your recent health history.
Schedule Your Eye Exam Today
If it’s been a while since your last eye exam, now is the time to schedule another one. To prepare for your exam, you may want to write down some questions to ask, like whether someone who specializes in optometry or ophthalmology is right for you. To schedule your eye exam, contact us today at Southside Medical Center in Atlanta, GA. We can’t wait to help you keep your eyes healthy so you can maintain your independence and quality of life.