FAQFrequently asked questions about our office, our doctors, and the practice of ophthalmology.
How do I order contact lenses?
What can I expect at an eye exam?
What is the difference between ophthalmologists, optometrists, and opticians?
What is a refraction?
Will I need to have my pupils dilated? If so, why?
How long will my pupils stay dilated, and will I be able to drive with my pupils dilated?
Do I need my eye pressure checked at every visit?
Do you accept my insurance?
What is the difference between a "vision exam" and "medical eye exam"?
How do I order contact lenses?Call our office at 301-498-6616 or send us a message to place an order for contact lenses.
What can I expect at an eye exam?After you have signed in, a technician will escort you to a screening area where he/she will review your general health history and reason for your visit. He/she will check your vision, eye pressure, and will likely put dilating eye drops in your eyes. These usually take about 20 minutes to take effect, at which time the doctor will see you. The doctor will use a slit lamp (a sophisticated microscope) to examine the health of your eyes, from the surface (cornea) to the back (retina). Occasionally, additional measurements may be done at your visit to check more specifically for glaucoma and macular degeneration (such as peripheral vision measurements and optic nerve and retinal imaging), and/or other eye or neurologic disease. Most eye exams take approximately 2 hours from start to finish. Please plan accordingly.
What is the difference between ophthalmologists, optometrists, and opticians?An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor with special training to diagnose and treat all diseases of the eye. To become an ophthalmologist requires a minimum of 8 years of medical school and hospital training after college. An ophthalmologist is qualified to provide all aspects of eye care, including cataract and glaucoma surgeries, laser and other eye surgery, as well as to prescribe glasses and contact lenses. Optometrists are doctors of optometry who have completed 4 years of optometry school. They are trained and licensed to provide some aspects of eye care, but they have not attended medical school and have not had medical residency training. In most states, they cannot prescribe all types of medical therapy nor can they perform surgery. Opticians make and dispense (do not prescribe) eyeglasses. They fill prescriptions for eyeglasses and contact lenses, much like pharmacists do for medications.
What is a refraction?A refraction, which is part of a routine vision exam, is a measurement performed and refined by your ophthalmologist to determine your best corrected vision. The refraction is necessary to provide a prescription for eyeglasses and/or contact lenses.
Will I need to have my pupils dilated? If so, why?A complete eye examination includes dilation of the pupils to enable the doctor to examine the entire eye, including the back of the eye which includes the optic nerve, macula, and retina. Rarely, dilating drops are not warranted. Occasionally, the doctor may specify that he/she does not want the technician to put dilating drops in your eyes.
How long will my pupils stay dilated, and will I be able to drive with my pupils dilated?The dilating drops that we typically use last, on average, 4-6 hours before they wear off. Occasionally, we use longer lasting eye drops in younger children, which can last approximately 24 hours. Most people do feel comfortable to drive after their pupils have been dilated. However, if you have never had your pupils dilated before (and therefore don't know if you will feel safe or not), we recommend that you bring a driver or arrange for someone to pick you up after your exam. People generally have the most difficulty focusing for near work (reading and/or computer work) until the dilation wears off. You will also be light sensitive as long as your pupils are dilated. Sunlight (any bright light) will not harm your eyes, but it feels uncomfortable. We offer disposable shades if you do not bring your own sunglasses.
Do I need my eye pressure checked at every visit?With few exceptions, yes, it is necessary to check the intraocular pressure (eye pressure) at every visit. It is definitely necessary to check vision in each eye at every visit. These are the "vital signs" of the eye.
Do you accept my insurance?We accept most major insurances. It is the patient's responsibility to check to see if a referral is needed and to obtain an appropriate referral for his/her visit. If a referral from your PCP is not received at the time of visit, you will need to reschedule your visit for a later date after you receive your referral. Referrals are usually required for HMO plans: CareFirst Blue Choice, Aetna HMO, Optimum Choice,and MDIPA. We do not accept vision insurance plans such as Davis Vision, VSP, Blue Vision, or Spectra. We can give you a statement for you to send into your insurance company upon request. Please call our office to verify vision coverage.
What is the difference between a "vision exam" and "medical eye exam"?A "vision exam" is a basic eye exam, which usually includes dilation of the pupils, and measures a person's prescription (and need for) glasses. This measurement is called a refraction. Medical testing, such as visual field exams and retinal photography, are not covered by vision insurance plans. A medical eye exam, covered under general medical insurance, is done when the patient has a chief complaint such as eye irritation, pain, diabetes, concern for glaucoma, cataracts, etc. Refractions are, unfortunately, generally not considered a covered service under medical insurance plans.