What To Expect At Your First Ophthalmologist Appointment

Posted on

It is recommended that everyone have an appointment with an ophthalmologist, or a doctor who specializes in eye and vision care, by the time they turn 40 years old. Those with diabetes, thyroid issues, HIV or AIDS, high blood pressure, a family history of eye disease, injuries to the eyes or those who are showing signs of a possible eye disease may need to be seen sooner. If you have made an appointment with an ophthalmologist for the first time, you may be wondering what you can expect. Here is a brief rundown of what will occur during your appointment. 

A Discussion With the Ophthalmologist

Before the doctor begins to do any tests or looks at your eyes, they will want to have a brief discussion with you. During this discussion, they will ask you about your medical history, your family's eye history, and the reason you are there. In addition to this, they will ask you questions about the health of your eyes. Some of the questions they may ask include:

Do you ever have decreased vision, even temporarily? Do you have distorted or double vision? Do you ever see halos around lights?  Do your eyes tear excessively? Do you see floaters? Do you see flashes of light out of nowhere? Do you experience pain in your eyes? Do you have any concerns with your eyes?

Reading a Standardized Eye Chart

The next step that will occur during your visit with an ophthalmologist is for you to read a standardized eye chart. If you have ever had your eyes checked by your doctor or optometrist before, you will be familiar with this process. 

An eye chart will be placed on the wall in front of you. You will be asked to cover one eye and then read the letters on the chart until you can no longer make out any letters. The letters on the chart progressively get smaller. You will then be asked to cover your opposite eye and read the letters again. 

This helps give the ophthalmologist a good idea about what you can and can't see. It also helps them to see if one eye is stronger or weaker than the other. 

Eye Muscle Testing

The next tests will help determine whether the eye muscles in your eye are functioning or whether the muscles may be deteriorating. 

The first test is an eye muscle coordination test. During this test, a ophthalmologist will ask you to follow a light or their hand from side to side and from front to back. As they do this, your eyes should move at the appropriate speed, allowing you to follow. The second test will be a pupil response test. A light is shone on the pupil for this test. As this occurs, your pupil should respond. 

Both an eye muscle coordination test and a pupil response test allow a doctor to determine if the muscles in the eye are working as they should. 

Dilating the Eyes

The next procedure that will be done is a procedure that dilates the eyes. An eye drop is placed on the eyes, which causes the eyes to dilate in 20 to 30 minutes. Once this happens, the ophthalmologist will have the ability to look at the lens, retina and optic nerve within the eye. 

Additional Procedures

Based on your age, medical conditions and the findings of the above tests, an ophthalmologist may do additional tests during your first appointment. Some of those tests include:

If you have never had an appointment with an ophthalmologist before, you may be nervous. However, learning what you can expect from your appointment can help you calm your nerves. During an initial appointment, the eye doctor at places like Advanced Retinal Institute Inc will ask you about your medical history, ask questions related to your eyes and vision, and perform tests that help them determine how well your eyes are functioning.  Based on the results and the overall health of your eyes, you will be told when you need to come back. This may be within a few weeks or as long as five years out.