Frequently Asked Patient Questions
Q: Is it possible for your eyes to be over-dilated at the eye doctor’s office?
Dr. Galbrecht: It is important to know what over-dilated means. With regards to the degree of dilation, there is not an excessive amount. The degree of dilation is highly variable, but no amount is excessive. With regards to the duration of the dilation, there is also great variability based on the sensitivity of the patient and the strength of the dilating drops used. If you find that your eyes stay dilated for an excessive period of time, ask your optometrist to use a milder drop at future visits.
Q: Is it OKAY to rub and touch your eyes?
Dr. Galbrecht: It can seem harmless, but I’d avoid rubbing and touching your eyes. It is possible to scratch your eyes, and you can make your allergy symptoms worse. In addition, eye rubbing over the long term can even weaken your cornea (the clear outer protective layer) enough to cause a condition called keratoconus (a disease causing high astigmatism and bulging of the cornea).
Q: What does it mean if you are legally blind?
Dr. Galbrecht: You are legally blind if your best correction (with glasses or contacts) is less than 20/200 (perfect is 20/20) in your better eye or if your side vision is less than 20 degrees in your better eye (done by visual field testing). Although you may be diagnosed as legally blind, you may still have some usable vision. These patients may also qualify for certain government benefits.
Q: Why does my eye twitch?
Dr. Galbrecht: Mild twitching of the eyelid (right or left) is common. These involuntary contractions of muscles are annoying, but are almost always temporary and completely harmless, and not visible to anyone else. The medical name for this condition is called ocular myokymia. It is most often associated with lack of sleep, too much caffeine, or increased stress. Gently massaging your eye and cold compresses will help relieve the symptoms. Twitching can last anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of days depending on the severity of symptoms.
Q. Are you employed by Wal-Mart?
A. No. I am an independent doctor of optometry who chose to locate my practice at Wal-Mart, which is my landlord. I make no income from selling glasses or contacts, only from providing comprehensive exams and treating ocular disease.
Q. How can your fees be so much lower than other eye doctors? Will I receive a quality exam?
A. We provide a thorough exam with the most advanced diagnostic instruments to evaluate your vision needs and uncover any other ocular conditions that may go undetected, if not regularly monitored. I received my doctor’s degree after the same four years of training that all optometrists receive and was licensed to practice by the state after extensive testing. We can offer lower fees because our overhead is lower operating here, and we are able to keep busy seeing patients all day because of our convenient location.
Q. How much does an eye exam cost?
A. A comprehensive eye health and vision exam is $80. A basic contact lens exam is $125 – $180. If you have astigmatism or need bifocal correction and want to wear contact lenses, there is a modest additional cost. Also, dilation is performed on every patient without an additional cost. Medical visits for red eyes or infections will be a different fee depending on insurance type.
Q. Will I receive a written prescription after the exam? Will the prescription be accepted anywhere?
A. We will supply a written prescription and summary of your exam as you leave the office.The prescription is valid anywhere in the U.S.
Q. I had an eye exam a little over a year ago, and my vision seems fine. Why do I need another exam?
A. We think it is important that all of our patients receive an annual eye exam. Your vision can change over a 12-month period. A regular check-up enables us to uncover any sight-threatening ocular conditions that can develop, unnoticed by you.
Q. Will you accept my insurance plan?
A. For the convenience of our patients, we accept most vision plans for whatever portion of the examination cost the plan covers. Please tell me your insurance company so that we can confirm your coverage.
Q. Why does it cost more for a contact lens exam?
A. We do additional testing with contact lens patients to measure the curvature of the eye to ensure that we prescribe the lens that optimizes fit and comfort. We also do an evaluation after you have worn the lenses for a given period to make sure there are no complications.
Q. Aren’t all contact lenses the same? Shouldn’t I just buy the cheapest ones?
A. They are not all the same. The contact lens companies spend millions of dollars every year to improve their lenses and regularly introduce new and better technology. You wouldn’t want to buy a five-year-old computer. For the same reason, it’s best to keep current and wear the latest and best lenses. Right now the companies are introducing new lens materials that allow much more oxygen to pass through, making them healthier to wear and enabling people to wear them in comfort for 14 hours or more per day. We recommend these new materials to most patients, even though they cost a little more, because we think they are better for their eyes in the long run.
Q. Will my contact lens prescription allow me to buy any brand of lens I want?
A. Your prescription is for a specific brand of contact lens that my examination and experience tell me is best for your vision and ocular health.
Q. Is it safe to wear a contact lens with a small tear in it?
A. A torn lens can damage the delicate outer tissue of your eye and lead to serious infection. If you tear a lens and do not have a replacement, come into the office right away and we will provide, at no charge, a lens that you can wear until your new supply arrives.
Q. Does Wal-Mart make high quality glasses? Because they cost less, will they last as long and let me see well?
A. Wal-Mart will custom-make your glasses in one of its six ultra-modern optical labs, using top quality lens and frame materials, which the company constantly seeks to upgrade. Because of Wal-Mart’s buying power and operating efficiency, you receive top-quality glasses at an everyday low price.
Q. I get eye crust every morning and in the afternoon too (without taking any naps). Is there a way to stop that?
A. Crusting of the eyelids usually indicates a chronic blepharitis (a low grade infection of the eyelids). Try using warm compresses three to four times a day. Wash away the dried crusts; do not let it accumulate. Ocusoft makes commercially available non-prescription cleansing pads. And, increased your intake of Omega 3 oils can be helpful. If these measures fail, you’ll want to see your optometrist.
Q. Why do my eyes seem drier in the winter months?
The eyes dry out when the moisture in the eyes evaporates too quickly and your tear glands can’t produce enough fluid to maintain the moisture. This is often caused by the cold wind outdoors and the dry heat indoors. These 8 things will help with your symptoms:
- use a humidifier,
- get a full night’s rest,
- decrease amount of time using the blow dryer,
- drinking a few extra glasses of water a day,
- wearing a headband to keep your eyelids warm,
- make a conscious effort to blink more,
- take an omega-3 supplement to increase tear production, and
- wear sunglasses to shield your eyes outside.
Q. What artificial tear is best for dry eye?