A thorough eye exam is one of the activities recommended to care for yourself and to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Depending on your age and health history, you may see the eye doctor yearly or, more often if necessary. Regardless of how well you see, regular eye exams are important to screen for eye disease, as some eye conditions can be asymptomatic in their earliest stages.
When you go in to see the optometrist or ophthalmologist, there are a few suggestions to keep in mind to make the experience as smooth and efficient as possible. This article will give you some tips on how best to prepare for your appointment.
What to Do Before an Eye Exam
Getting ready to see the eye doctor doesn’t require a whole lot of preparation. However, there are certain guidelines that will make the appointment more successful and efficient for both you and your doctor.
Think of Your Symptoms and Concerns
When you arrive at your appointment, you’ll likely go through a variety of screening tests. It’s easy to get caught up in the details of the exam and test and forget why you came in for the appointment. Making notes ahead of time can remind you to bring up your symptoms and concerns. There may be issues that brought you in, like eye strain, headaches, red eyes, or blurry vision. Or it may be that you just came in to make sure everything is ok, and that’s fine too.
Bring Your Current Prescription
It is helpful to bring your last eyeglass prescription to your appointment. Whether you had glasses made with it or not, your last prescription will be helpful as a comparison when new measurements are taken.
Bring In Your Eyeglasses and Contact Lenses
Bringing in your current eyeglasses and contact lenses can be helpful, as well. If you wear soft contact lenses, bring them in an unopened blister package. If you wear hard lenses, you can bring them in their case.
Know Your Family Medical History
Family history is an important component when assessing your risk for many diseases, including a variety of eye conditions. Gather this information ahead of time, if you are able. Perhaps you know that your grandmother is blind, but you’re not sure what caused it. Ask her before it's time for your appointment. Was it glaucoma? Macular degeneration? Diabetic retinopathy? This information is important for your eye doctor to assess your risk of developing the same condition.
Your pupils may be dilated at your eye exam, which will cause you to be light sensitive for several hours after the appointment. Even if it’s cloudy outside, bring dark sunglasses to make your eyes feel more comfortable when you leave your appointment. Some offices may provide disposable sunglasses, but if you have your own, bring them along.
Eye exams sometimes involve procedures in which you have to hold your eyes open. If your eyes are dry, this will be particularly challenging. Be sure to stay hydrated before your appointment to minimize discomfort during your exam.
What Not to Do Before an Eye Exam
There are very few restrictions prior to going in for an eye exam, here are a few pointers to keep in mind:
Don’t Strain Your Eyes
Your eyes will be undergoing a lot of tests during your exam. It’s important that you are well rested for this, try to get a full 8 hours of sleep before your appointment. Don’t strain your eyes before coming in either. Scheduling an appointment at the end of a long day after staring at a screen is not recommended. Try to find a time when your eyes are relatively relaxed, or taking breaks from screen time throughout the day can help to minimize eye fatigue.
Don’t Wear Your Contacts to Your Eye Exam
Wearing your contact lenses to your eye exam can make your appointment slightly longer. You’ll need to have your contacts out for most of the testing, so it’s easier if you arrive wearing your glasses.
Don’t Forget Your Insurance Documents
Always bring your insurance card(s) to your appointment. Depending on the reason for your visit, your eye exam may be billed to your vision insurance or your medical insurance. Bringing both cards will cover every scenario. Taking a picture of your insurance cards with your phone is a great tip to ensure you always have them with you.
When’s the Best Time to Schedule an Eye Exam?
Research by neuroscientists suggests that vision is best at 8:00 AM and 8:00 PM, and worst at 2:00 PM. Although this is a fascinating bit of information, it’s not necessary to schedule your eye exam around these suggestions. Ultimately, the best time to schedule an eye exam is a time that works best for you. Earlier in the day, your eyes may be more refreshed and less strained. However, if you take breaks throughout the day, an afternoon appointment is just as effective, if that is whats better for your schedule.
Certain measurements may vary depending on the time of day they are taken. For example, intraocular pressure can peak in the morning for many people. If your doctor suspects you have glaucoma, they may ask you to come in for a morning appointment to see how high your intraocular pressure is versus an afternoon measurement.
For the most part though, whatever time works for you is the best time to go in. Some offices even accept walk-in patients, you'll definitely want to check on this prior to your visit.
Going in for an eye exam doesn’t require nearly as much preparation as going in for surgery does, but there are still a few things to keep in mind to optimize your experience. Remember to jot down some notes and questions before you go, including your symptoms and family history. Come in wearing your glasses, bring a copy of your previous prescription if you have it, and don’t forget your insurance cards.
If you’re ready to schedule your appointment, contact the Kraff Eye Institute today. Eye exams are about more than just glasses and contact lenses. The Kraff Eye Institute offers comprehensive eye exams to check for, and treat, diseases like cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, dry eyes, and more. Many eye conditions are preventable and treatable, the earlier they are diagnosed, the better. Make your annual eye exam part of your preventative health care to maintain a healthy lifestyle.