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Eye Doctor Appointment Checklist

Editor's Note: Editor's Note: The following item is reprinted from Prism, Winter, 2001, the newsletter of Community Services for the Blind and Partially Sighted.

One of the best ways to get the most out of any doctor's appointment is to show up prepared. Whether it's a list of questions, or a request for a referral, it's a good idea to plan ahead before visiting with your doctor to ensure you don't leave the office without all the necessary information.

The following is a checklist of questions and tips provided by the National Society to Prevent Blindness (NSBP) that can help you make the most of your next visit to the eye doctor.

When you call to make an appointment:

  • Be prepared to describe any vision problems you are having.

  • Ask if you will be able to drive yourself home. Will the eye examination affect your vision temporarily?

  • Ask how much the exam will cost. Do any of your health insurance plans cover any of the cost? How is payment handled?

Before you go in for your examination:

Make a list of the following:

  • Signs or symptoms of eye problems you have noticed (flashes of light, difficulty seeing at night, temporary double vision, loss of vision, etc.)

  • Eye injuries or eye surgeries you have had (approximate dates, hospitals where treated, etc.)

  • Prescription and over-the-counter drugs you are taking.

  • Questions you have about your vision.

  • Your general health conditions (allergies, chronic health problems, operations, etc.)

  • Family history of eye problems (glaucoma, cataracts, etc.)

Take along the following:

  • Your glasses or contact lenses or both.

  • Prescription and over-the-counter drugs you are taking.

  • Medical or health insurance card or your membership certificate.

During the examination:

  • Ask questions about anything that seems unclear to you, such as the names and purposes of test you may undergo.

  • Ask when it's best to call the doctor with questions.

  • Find out when you should return for your next exam.

If the doctor finds a potential or existing vision problem:

  • What is the problem called? How did I get it?

  • What can be done about it? What are the recommended treatments? Are there any alternatives?

  • How likely is it that I may lose my sight?

  • Can other members of my family inherit the problem?

If your doctor recommends surgery:

  • What are the benefits and risks of the surgery?

  • What will my vision probably be like afterwards? Is it likely that I will need glasses and medication?

  • What will recuperation be like? Will I need a nursing aid?

  • What precautions will I probably need to observe, and for how long?

  • Will surgery be necessary? Who will perform the surgery?

  • Would any of my health insurance plans cover any of the costs of surgery?

  • Where will surgery be done?

  • Will I need a local or general anesthetic?

  • How can I get a second opinion?

If your doctor finds that you have a vision problem that cannot be restored through glasses or contacts, medication or surgery:

  • Can I enhance the sight I have through low-vision aids?

  • Where would I get these devices?

  • Are there any support groups nearby for people with vision loss?

  • Are there any local vision rehabilitation agencies that can help me?