Did you know that nearly 1.3 million Americans age 40 and older are considered to be legally blind? With a further 2.9 million Americans also experiencing low-vision, appointments with ophthalmologists are in high demand. That said, there are many more people not included in these statistics, even though they should be. Unfortunately, it’s often the case that people only begin looking after their vision once it starts to interfere with their everyday life. This is why so many retinal conditions are left undiagnosed and become increasingly difficult to treat. Your sight is just one part of your health, but it’s a hugely important one. This is why as retina specialists, we’ll always encourage patients to take control of their eye health and make eye checks part of their overall health routine. For patients who have never visited an ophthalmologist before, this can seem like a daunting prospect. However, no visit to an ophthalmologist is ever as bad as the eye condition you might miss having diagnosed. As retina care consultants in Sarasota, we have one of the highest patient return rates in Florida — so clearly we’re doing something right! Still, if you’ve never visited an ophthalmologist or retina specialist before, you might have some questions. Here’s how to prepare for an ophthalmologist appointment 1. Do something relaxing beforehand (but go easy on the coffee!) Even though an appointment with an eye doctor is nothing to worry about, you’d be surprised by how many nervous patients show up to their appointments feeling stressed and anxious. If you’re feeling particularly nervous before your appointment, be sure to do something relaxing beforehand. If you’re coming straight from work or from a busy home environment, take a few minutes out in our waiting room to read a magazine or listen to a podcast. If you’re coming from home, distract yourself with something you enjoy doing. Just remember to go easy on the coffee before your ophthalmologist appointment. Caffeine can impact your blood pressure and affect the results of your eye exam — so maybe stick with decaf or treat yourself to a coffee after your appointment. It’s also important to remember that ophthalmologists train for an average of 12 years to be able to treat your eye conditions and all professional ophthalmologists and retina specialists are trained in putting their patients at ease. If you’re still feeling a little apprehensive, let your eye doctor know and they’ll be able to take your appointment at a pace you’re comfortable with. 2. Try not to wear eye makeup If in doubt, go without! Even though not every ophthalmologist will insist on the removal of eye makeup before an eye examination, many will. This is because during an eye exam, foreign materials entering your eye can risk causing infection. Eye makeup such as mascara and eyeliner can carry microbes that upon entering the eye, can be a breeding ground for bacteria. When scheduling your appointment with an eye doctor or retina specialist, ask if removing your makeup beforehand will be necessary. 3. Take note of any symptoms you’ve been experiencing If it’s your first time visiting an ophthalmologist, they won’t have any records of you as a patient. This is why it’s important to take note of anything out of the ordinary in the lead-up to your appointment. For example, did you know that many patients just pass off eye floaters as something not worth mentioning to their eye doctor? Even though floaters and spots in your vision are generally harmless, they’re always worth mentioning to your ophthalmologist or retina specialist. As for other symptoms, even if you don’t think they’re relevant, it’s good for your ophthalmologist to have the complete picture of your health when conducting an eye exam. This is because there are many seemingly unrelated health conditions that can be connected to your vision. Some of which include: \tDiabetes \tLyme disease \tArthritis \tThyroid \tVitamin deficiency \tBowel disorders (such as Crohn’s disease) \tAnd many more! 4. Ask your family about their history with eye conditions and disease Following on from the previous point, your family’s history of eye conditions and eye disease is something that your ophthalmologist will be particularly interested in hearing about. Especially if you’re a new patient to their practice, it’s likely to be one of the first questions they ask you. Did you know that more than 350 eye diseases are connected to hereditary factors? These diseases include: \tGlaucoma \tAge-related macular degeneration (AMD) \tCataracts \tAnd more! If your family has a history of any of these diseases, it’s always best to mention it to your retina specialist as early as possible. The sooner these conditions are diagnosed, the more likelihood there is of you having a wider range of treatment options. 5. Bring along your current glasses prescription Ophthalmologists are trained in both the medical and surgical treatment of the eye, but they’ll also be interested to see what type of prescription you’re currently using if you’re a glasses or contact lens wearer. This is because for many patients that ophthalmologists see, some of their eye health issues can be attributed to eye strain caused by wearing the wrong type of glasses. Eye strain can significantly affect your vision over long periods of time, so bring along your current glasses and allow your eye doctor to examine if they might be connected to any issues you’re experiencing. 6. Pre-plan a way of getting home that doesn’t require driving If you know you’re only having a routine eye exam, it’s common to drive yourself home (unless your eyes are particularly watery or you’re a nervous patient!). However, if you’re visiting your ophthalmologist for pre-arranged treatment or a more thorough examination, it’s always best to have an alternative way of getting home. After treatment for your eyes (including intravitreal injections), it’s advised that you don’t drive afterwards. This is because your vision will usually be blurred due to the dilating drops used before certain treatments. Especially in the Florida area, we know how dependent our patients are on their vehicles for getting to and from appointments. In this case, our receptionist at our Sarasota clinic will be more than happy to call a taxi for you before you leave. Alternatively, it’s also possible to take a bus right to our clinic! Let us know where you’re coming from and we’ll be able to direct you! Keep in mind: Your visit to an ophthalmologist should never feel overwhelming or stressful. We’re highly skilled at our jobs and we’ll always do our best to ensure that your appointment is as efficient as possible. If you’re finding that you get anxious before visiting a particular eye doctor, it might be time to consider other doctors in your area. If you’re from the Sarasota area of Florida, we’re currently taking on new patients at our clinic. If you’re looking to book an appointment with one of our retina specialists, you can get in touch with us now. Taking care of your vision is an important part of maintaining your overall health and the first step in doing this is to ensure you have a good eye doctor on hand.