Its 8:00 and I’m jumping in the car to drop my little guy off at daycare and make it to work on time. We pull into the parking lot, he gathers up his blanky and his bunny and we head off into his school. After 10 min and some tears I’m back in the car and headed to the office. Singing along to the radio and yelling at the car in front of me for sitting at a green light, thinking about the day ahead. What would make this day easier on all involved? What am I going to encounter today? As I pull into the parking lot and walk in and see a patient standing at the counter asking why she’d need her eyes dilated, a question we hear more often than not, it hits me, People have no clue what to expect when they come to the optometrist. They have no clue why we ask them to bring in their old glasses that have been sitting on the table for months collecting dust, or why we ask for a list of medications. All they know is they need an eye exam, and we can do that for them. So hang in there, this post will help those who have no idea what they can expect when they come into our office.
When you show up you will be greeted by one of our receptionist, who will check you in and help you fill out any paperwork you may need done. (This is the part where that list of medications comes in handy.) She’ll ask you if you would like your eyes dilated and you’ll think to yourself, why and what is that? To answer your question, dilating your eyes gives the doctor a closer look at the back of your eye, it will cause light sensitivity for four to six hours, so unless you’re a diabetic patient, a new patient to our office or having sever vision problems your answer is going to most likely be No.
Phew, you made it through her first question, there is no way the next one will be as complicated. So you made your choice on dilation and she asks you if you’d like a contact lens exam. I know what your thinking, this should be common sense right, if you wear contacts you’d say yes, if you currently don’t wear them but are interested you say yes and if the idea of touching your eye totally grosses you out you’d probably say no, but believe me there are people out there who panic and are like do I want what, yes I wear them.
So you say yes and she moves on. She hands you a form with several blank lines with highlighter all over them. She asks you for an emergency contact, your phone number, then your height and weight. This throws you off. Why do you need my height and weight? The doctor can tell the risk of some eye conditions based off of this information. It’s not because we’re being nosey and there’s no way we’re going to make you stand on a scale, we’re looking for a guess. In the blank little rectangle to the right there’s a spot that says medications and you think to yourself, why do you need to know what I’m taking, how can that affect my eyes. Well there are medications out there that do in fact mess with your vision. We’re not asking for every vitamin and mineral supplement you take, we’re just looking for any prescription medications.
After you finish your paperwork and receive your complementary bottle of water you wait in the lobby. Now you have two choices here, you can sit and wait or you can look at frames. Personally, I love to shop while I wait, that way I can make sure I had plenty of time to check out all of the frames. Once the room opens up you’ll be called back to the auto refract and visual field machines. I panic every time I’m asked to click the button every time I see the little squiggle, so I know how stressful these tests can be, but have no fear they are just the preliminaries and help the doctor determine your basic prescription for glasses. This is also the time to pull out those old glasses and give them to Scott so he can read our current prescription, so after the exam the doctor can tell you how much your prescription has changed.
So you’ve finished your preliminaries and are in the room, you patiently wait while the doctor finishes up and moves onto you. He’ll walk in and ask you how your vision is and if you’re having any problems. Then comes the phoropter, you know the thing where he asks you one or two and you swear they looked the exact same, once you get through with all of that, he will bring you out front and hand you off to one of the dispensary technicians who will help you find the perfect frame. (Finding the perfect frame will be my next post) Once you find the frame you just can’t live without, you’ll decide on lenses and lens options. Your dispenser will take your frame and if there’s no insurances involved that require us to send out the frame, they’ll give you an estimated time you can pick up your new glasses, usually it only takes a few hours.
You did it! You made it through your exam with a minimal level of stress, lots of guidance and got all the help you needed.