As an eye doctor, I really enjoy being asked questions by a patient. First, the patient is taking an active interest and role in their eye health. Second, it gives me a great opportunity to share information. This information can empower that patient to reduce their long-term eye health risks and improve their chance of life-long optimal vision. Usually, best patient treatment outcomes arise when a patient takes an interest in what’s going on with their eyes. I really encourage you to take that active interest. Here’s 4 questions to ask your eye doctor during your exam.
Do any of my current medications affect my eyes or vision. If so, what are the potential effects?
It’s surprising how many medications can have an adverse effect on the eyes. In reality, almost every medication can impact the eyes. Some classes of medications have a higher frequency of side effects . Others may have less frequency of ocular side effects but those effects are much more serious. It’s important to bring your full list of medications to your eye exam. Also, ask your eye doctor specifically if any of those medications have risks of ocular side effects. If so, what are those risks? Is there any current impact to your eyes based on the exam? What symptoms should you be on the look out for and what to do if they occur?
How does my family history impact my risks for eye health or vision issues?
If you have a family history of certain eye diseases, it a risk factor for you developing the conditions as well. Two major examples are glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration. A family history is not a guarantee that you will develop those conditions, but it does increase your risk. There are other eye diseases that are associated with family history. For that reason, it’s important to give a full and detailed family history of eye disease at your yearly eye exam. It’s also important to ask the eye doctor what that family history means for you specifically and if there is anything you can do to help reduce further risks over time.
How has my vision changed over time? Are these natural changes or the result of something else?
Almost everyone asks me “has my vision gotten worse?” But, I think a great question for your eye doctor is how has my vision been changing over the last 2,4,5+ years? Is there a trend to the vision changes. This is very important in younger children who show progression of myopia. (lots of articles on that here). I also think a great question is whether these are natural changes in vision or is there another cause? Dry eye syndrome, cataracts, diabetes, macular degeneration, heavy computer/phone use, certain medications are just a few of the “other causes” of vision changes. It’s important for the doctor to rule them out as the causes of vision changes. If there are other causes of vision changes, then the obvious follow-up question is “what do we do about them?”
What can I do to keep my vision clear and my eyes healthy over the long-term?
This is a great question for your eye doctor because aging can take a toll on the eyes. When we are young and healthy and see well, thinking about our eye health later on life isn’t a huge priority. But, considering how much we depend on our eye, long-term care for the eyes should be a priority. Making changes and forming good habits in your 20’s, 30’s, 40s, 50’s can have a big impact on your eyes and vision when you hit the 60’s and beyond. There are some general things a person can do. For example, wear sunglasses ALL the time–even in winter. Reducing UV light exposure has multiple benefits. Yet, your doctor may have more specific recommendations for you based on your history, family history, eye health exam, etc.
I really believe almost every eye doctor enjoy being asked questions. We enjoy what we do and we care about people. Sharing helpful information that could improve a person’s well being is part of our passion. So, please, ask away! Becoming an active participant and interested party in your own eye health will help your best vision as the years fly by.
Feel free to give me a shout with your comments or questions.