A woman at an eye exam appointment with an optometrist.

Sight is one of our most valued senses, which is why it’s so important to visit your eye doctor regularly to ensure that your eyes stay healthy. There may be as long as a year or more between visits so it’s so important to make the most of your time with your eye doctor. After all, you don’t want to wait another year to ask a question that came to mind ten minutes after your last appointment ended.

If this scenario sounds familiar, do yourself a favor and arrive prepared so it doesn’t happen again.

Where to Begin

Every patient has a unique set of concerns, so you’ll want to develop a list of questions about topics that matter to you, but here are five important questions that are relevant to almost everyone.

  1. Are my eyes as healthy as they can be or are there things I can do to improve my vision and ocular health? Many patients wonder if there’s anything they could do differently to better care for their eyes and to safeguard their vision over the long term. If you have a disease such as glaucoma, diabetes or age-related macular degeneration, your doctor will likely educate you thoroughly on many steps you can, and should, take to safeguard your eyes. But even if you don’t have a serious condition, it’s great to be proactive about your wellness—especially with regard to something as important as your vision. Sometimes doctors may shy away from suggesting additional tests or improved glasses or contact lenses because they’re uncomfortable with the transactional nature of the conversation. For example, 92% of eye care professionals say silicone hydrogel 1 day lenses are the best choice to safeguard their patients’ eye health related to contact lens wear1, yet only half (52%) of the daily disposable fits recorded in 2017 used silicone hydrogel materials.2 If improving your health matters a lot to you, say so. You may be presented with options you never knew you had!
  2. What are the best vision correction options available for my eyes? Over two-thirds (68%) of consumers say they expect their ECP to recommend the healthiest option regardless of cost,3 but as was mentioned in the example above, sometimes doctors hold back and feel prevented from making this recommendation out of concern for the patient’s budget. In truth, how you spend your money is up to you, so if you want to know if there’s something better, tell your doctor that you want to hear about the best options—not just the most frugal ones.
  3. Are my digital devices affecting my eyes and, if so, what I can do about it? More than 83 percent of Americans report using digital devices for more than two hours per day.4 In many children and adults, screen time can lead to digital eye strain.5 Common symptoms include eye strain, headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes, and neck and shoulder pain.6 The good news is that your doctor can offer several tips on how to find relief. These range from lighting and display settings to specialized prescriptions, including contact lenses, which may help address symptoms of digital eye fatigue.
  4. Do I need to take any particular steps to protect my eyes? If your doctor hasn’t already spoken with you about eye safety, this question will likely initiate a conversation about topics including protective eyewear, contact lens care, ultraviolet (UV) light and more. Notably, more than 2,000 workers experience some form of medical treatment due to work-related eye injuries every day in the U.S. alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control.7 Talk to your doctor about your workplace conditions to decide if special eyewear is warranted. You should also take precautions against UV. Several eye problems have been linked to UV exposure, including cataracts, macular degeneration, pingueculae, pterygia, photokeratitis, cancers of the eye and surrounding skin, and more. Sunglasses are your eyes’ best defense, but studies have shown that UV-blocking contact lenses can help block the peripheral light that sunglasses can't block.89 If you are a contact lens wearer, always replace your lenses as prescribed by your doctor and follow the required care and cleaning regimen. If you sometimes fall asleep in your lenses, ask about continuous wear options. Or, if you don’t want the hassle of rubbing and rinsing your lenses each night, enquire about 1 day disposable lenses.
  5. When should I return for my next visit and is it time to make an appointment for any of my family members? Your eye care professional will determine how often you need an exam based on your age, vision and medical history. Staying on schedule is important for you and for your loved ones. Many offices will schedule your next appointment right way. If not, set a reminder in your phone. Also, if your spouse, child or parent under your care sees the same doctor as you do, don’t leave the office without making sure their exams are on the books too.

Finally, never worry that your doctor will think less of you if you show up with a list. On the contrary, most eye doctors are thrilled when their patients care as much about their eyes as they should.

Nothing in this blog post is to be construed as medical advice, nor is it intended to replace the recommendation of a medical professional. For specific questions, please see your Eye Care Practitioner.

Warning: UV-absorbing contact lenses are not substitutes for protective UV-absorbing eyewear, such as UV-absorbing goggles or sunglasses, because they do not completely cover the eye and surrounding area. Patients should continue to use UV-absorbing eyewear as directed.

1. ECP perception of the benefits of 1-day silicone hydrogels. February 2018. Cello Health Insight. Data on file. Survey carried out online in US, UK and Japan. Total sample size n = 300 (100 ECPs in each country).

2. Morgan PB, Woods C, Tranousids I, et al. International Contact Lens Prescribing in 2017. Contact Lens Spectrum 2018;33:28-33.

3. Silicone hydrogel lenses. 2018. YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1520 adults who wear contact lenses. Fieldwork undertaken Mar 26th - Apr 3rd 2018. Survey carried out online. 

4. The Vision Council. Digital Eye Strain. https://www.thevisioncouncil.org/content/digital-eye-strain

5. American Optometric Association. Computer Vision Syndrome. https://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-vision/protecting-your-vision/computer-vision-syndrome?sso=y

6. American Optometric Association. Computer Vision Syndrome. https://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-vision/protecting-your-vision/computer-vision-syndrome?sso=y

7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Eye Safety.

8. Kwok LS, Kuznetsov VA, Ho A, et al. Prevention of the adverse photic effects of peripheral light-focusing using UV-blocking contact lenses. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci.2003;44:1501-1507.

9. A Closer Look at UV-Blocking Contact Lenses. Contact Lens Spectrum. November 2007. Available at: http://www.clspectrum.com/supplements/2007/november-2007/raising-awareness-of-the-ocular-dangers-of-uv-radi/a-closer-look-at-uv-blocking-contact-lenses 

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