“Now that I’m getting older, my friends are talking about cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration and other eye problems.  During my last eye exam, none of this was discussed.  How do I know if I have them?”

Good question.  How do you know if you’re getting high quality eye care to prevent vision loss from an aging eye?  Read on for the answer.

It could be a serious problem if you feel like your vision is not adequate, your eyes hurt or ache and you’re on several medications, but none of this is ever discussed or solutions offered during an eye exam.

Did you know that a family history of glaucoma, diabetes or AMD (Age-related Macular Degeneration) can be sight-threatening conditions?  Therefore, it’s important your eyes are diagnosed, monitored and, if necessary, treated properly. 

The standard, routine vision exam you’re probably used to likely does not provide adequate time and technology to manage your eye’s health.  What you need is the assurance that you’re visiting the right doctor, someone who will pay special attention to your eyes, ask questions, and have the experience, techniques and technology to address your problems.

I would like to present you with three valuable tips to make sure you’re receiving the high-quality, medical eye care you need and deserve.

1.  Ask if the doctor is equipped with the technology to diagnose and manage eye-related diseases.

     When you call the doctor, ask if he or she is equipped with the technology to diagnose eye diseases, such as glaucoma, AMD and diabetes.  Unfortunately, larger chain-style practices, typically located in strip malls, are usually not equipped with the tools required to manage age-related eye problems.  Many of these doctors are no doubt well-educated and knowledgable, but their business models are typically set up to focus on the sales of contacts and eyeglasses.  Because of this, doctor-patient interaction is usually very limited.

     I say this from experience.

     Early in my career, I worked for a short time at a well-known commercial optometry chain.  I was required to see a new patient every 15 minutes, many days with no assistance from a technician. By the time I sat down with a patient, I had about 5 minutes to complete the exam. I felt that I could not physically provide appropriate medical eye care in such a limited amount of time.

      Private Optometry practices, however, are more likely to be equipped with the proper technology, such as Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), corneal topography, full-threshold visual fields, optomap retinal photos with auto-fluorescence, etc.  As the eye ages, it become more and more important that the doctors evaluating you are appropriately equipped to manage diseases of the aging eye.

2.     Ask what the doctor’s field of expertise is.

        Within a few seconds, the person you speak with on the phone should be able clearly to explain what the doctor is good at.  If the first thing mentioned is their ability to provide accurate prescriptions for glasses or contacts, this might not be the best place to receive medical eye care for the aging eye.   You want to hear words like “specializes in medical exams,” or “Macular Degeneration,” or “glaucoma,” or “cataracts.”

       Of course, most eye doctors try to provide the most accurate prescriptions for their patients, but for the aging eye, or for someone with a potentially sight-threatening condition, you really want a doctor who focuses on managing the conditions of the aging eye.

3.   Ask if you can use vision insurance for your medical eye exam.

      The answer to this question should be no.  If the answer is yes, then you’re probably being set up for a routine, instead of a medical eye examination.  If you have a medical eye condition such as cataracts, AMD, glaucoma or diabetes, and your doctor is billing your vision plan, there usually will not be enough time during your exam to address these issues adequately, if at all.  Medical plans usually pay doctors and clinics much better than vision plans.  This permits the doctor to schedule more time with you.  If you require additional testing, such as optical coherence tomography, corneal topography or visual fields, these tests will be billed to your medical insurance.

       Vision plans do not cover any examination or procedure that is medical in nature.

At ECFS we specialize in medical eye exams.  Our focus is around early detection of age-related eye diseases, to reduce your risk of unnecessary vision loss.  We are fully-equipped with state-of-the-art technology to diagnose and manage medical eye conditions properly.  Our doctors are dedicated to providing the best possible care for your aging eye.  We have close relationships with top ophthalmology surgeons, should surgery prove necessary. Our professional billing department can help you sort out your insurance questions. 

  If you’re concerned about maintaining the health of your eyes, please call our office at 541-726-5055, and check out our website at www.eyecarefocus.com.