Below are answers to commonly asked questions. If your question is not answered, please ask during your appointment, or call our office.
My eyes don’t hurt and my vision is okay. Do I need an eye exam?
Regular eye exams are an invaluable tool in maintaining your eyes’ health by detecting and preventing disease. Some diseases, such as glaucoma, often develop gradually without causing pain or vision loss – so you may not notice anything wrong until significant and irreversible damage has been done.
Early detection of any problems can allow for a choice of treatment options and a reduced risk of further harm.
What should I expect during my complete eye exam appointment?
One of our friendly patient representatives will greet you upon your arrival. Please have all forms completed, either through our patient portal or downloaded forms. You will be asked to present your insurance card or cash coupon and your photo identification. If you have an insurance plan such as an HMO or PPO that requires a referral, please make sure we have it on file or please bring it with you.
Next, you will meet with one of our highly skilled, Certified Ophthalmic Technicians. They will do a series of vision testing, including refraction, and ask you about your general health and your eye health. If you wear prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses, please be sure to bring them with you. If you take medications, please bring that list with you. Depending on the type of exam for which you are scheduled, you may or may not be given dilation drops in your eyes. Dilation makes it difficult to focus on close objects. This can interfere with your ability to drive or work for a few hours after your eye exam. Eye dilation also makes your eyes more sensitive to bright light. Disposable sunglasses will be provided should you forget to your bring your sunglasses.
Now you will be ready to see one of our Board Certified Ophthalmologists. They will do a careful exam of the outside and the inside of your eye(s). Depending on the reason for your appointment, they may order additional testing to rule out or monitor specific eye disease(s). If you have questions, please feel free to jot them down before your appointment so you will be ready to discuss them with your doctor. Should your condition require surgery, you will meet with one of our detailed and compassionate Surgery Schedulers to plan for your procedure. If you are tired of wearing corrective lenses and wish to schedule LASIK, you will meet with our expert Refractive Coordinator.
After your doctor visit you will check out with a patient representative to schedule any follow up appointments and to settle your account. We accept cash, checks, and all major credit cards.
Last, but not least, you will pick up your corrective lens prescription and shop for your new, stylish frames and/or lenses with our Board Certified Opticians or contact lens fitter.
Please expect to be in our office approximately 90 minutes for a complete eye examination.
Should I use my Routine Vision Coverage or my Medical Insurance?
Your insurance company says it depends upon the reason you are seeing the doctor.Your medical benefit/carrier is billed if you see the doctor for medical care such as cataract, glaucoma, retinal disease, complaints of red eyes, tearing, burning, floaters, flashes of light, or to follow an existing condition such as diabetes or Plaquenil medication for autoimmune disease.
Your routine vision benefit/carrier is billed if you are seeing the doctor for a “healthy” eye exam or for a prescription for eyeglasses or contact lenses only.
Again, these definitions are based on guidelines of your insurance company and vision plan and Eye Physicians of Austin is contractually obligated to follow them. EPA makes every effort to submit claims correctly so that:
1. We are in compliance with our contracted insurance carriers and vision plans.
2. You do not receive unexpected medical bills for uncovered services.
What is a refraction?
Refraction is the process of determining the eye’s refractive error, or need for corrective glasses and/or contact lenses. Refraction is sometimes necessary depending on the patient’s diagnosis and/or complaints presented that day. For example, if a patient is experiencing blurred vision or a decrease in visual acuity on the eye chart, a refraction would be needed to see if this is due to a need for glasses or due to a medical problem. A refraction is also necessary to prove to insurance the need for cataract surgery. We must prove that your vision cannot be simply improved with a glasses prescription. As you can see a refraction is an essential part of an eye exam, however, Medicare and most insurance DO NOT cover it.
What is macular degeneration?
Macular degeneration is the number-one cause of blindness in the United States. It occurs when the macula — a part of the retina in the back of the eye that ensures that our vision is clear and sharp — degrades or “degenerates,” causing a progressive loss of vision.
Does macular degeneration have any symptoms?
Yes. They include:
A gradual loss of ability to see objects clearly
A gradual loss of color vision
A dark or empty area appearing in the center of vision
Can macular degeneration be treated?
The “dry” form of macular degeneration has no treatment, but the “wet” form may be helped by laser procedures if it is detected early. Certain vitamins and minerals may also aid in slowing or preventing vision loss.
What is diabetic retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that weakens the blood vessels that supply nourishment to the retina (the light-sensitive lining in the back of the eye where vision is focused). When these weak vessels leak, swell or develop thin branches, vision loss occurs. In its advanced stages, the disease can cause blurred or cloudy vision, floaters and blind spots – and, eventually, blindness. This damage is irreversible.
Can diabetic retinopathy be prevented?
Yes. People with diabetes are most susceptible to developing it, but your risk is reduced if you follow your prescribed diet and medications, exercise regularly, control your blood pressure, and avoid alcohol and cigarettes. Regular eye exams are an integral part of making sure your eyes are healthy.
Can diabetic retinopathy be treated?
Although damage caused by diabetic retinopathy cannot be corrected, patients diagnosed with the condition can be treated to slow its progression and prevent further vision loss. Treatment modalities include laser and surgical procedures.
What is corneal cross-linking?
Corneal cross-linking is a procedure used to treat keratoconus, a corneal disease characterized by a weak and thin cornea that, over time, has caused your eye to bulge into a cone-like shape, making your vision distorted.
In this minimally invasive procedure, your provider applies liquid riboflavin, also known as vitamin B2, to the surface of your eye. They then apply a controlled amount of ultraviolet light. Together, the UV light and riboflavin work to make the tissues in your cornea stronger by creating special bonds between the collagen fibers. This helps stabilize your cornea. There are two types of corneal cross-linking procedures:
Your provider removes the thin outer layer of your cornea, known as the epithelium so that the liquid riboflavin is able to easily access your corneal tissue.
Your provider does not remove your epithelium. This procedure takes a little longer since the liquid riboflavin will need more time to penetrate your corneal tissue.
Corneal cross-linking is a successful method for treating a variety of other corneal infections, as well as corneal ulcers that have not responded well to topical antibiotics.