Q. Are you accepting new patients and walk-ins?
A. New patients are welcome at both of our offices. For your convenience, we ask that you make an appointment, which can be scheduled within just a day or two, if not the same day.
The receptionist will need to gather a little information in order to schedule an appointment for you to be seen by a doctor, including any medical or vision plan insurances you may have. The office staff will verify your insurance coverage before your appointment at either of our state-of-the-art eye care offices. Of course, payment is due at the time of service for any portion not expected to be covered by insurance. We accept cash, checks, Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover.
Be sure to bring your insurance card and driver's license to present at the check-in desk. We will take a quick photo of you that becomes part of your electronic medical record--to help us provide you with personal care. You are not just a number to us!
Please bring a list of the current prescription drugs that you are taking and your current glasses and/or contacts to your appointment.
A comprehensive eye exam, which necessarily includes dilation, can take some time, so please plan to allow adequate time for the exam. The time required in the office may be longer if glasses are prescribed and need to be selected and fitted in the optical boutique. The time needed for a visit may also be extended if any additional diagnostic testing is necessary for a medical diagnosis.
For your convenience, we have a full-service Optical Boutique in both offices with large frame selections and experienced frame fitters to assist you with your glasses order. We also have an optical lab in the Lake City location with the ability to fill most glasses prescriptions within just a few business days.
It is often possible to have a glasses prescription filled in 1 hour in the Lake City office. Some lenses, such as safety glasses, do require special ordering.
A 50% deposit is required to begin making the custom prescription glasses. The balance is due at the time they are dispensed.
Q. What does my insurance pay for, and do you accept my insurance?
A. We accept most major medical insurance, including Medicare and Medicaid. We also accept some vision plans, or offer an optical discount for plan holders that we do not accept. The office staff verifies the patient's insurance coverage the day before the scheduled appointment. We also accept the Medicare Advantage plans. Please see a more comprehensive list of insurances we accept on the insurance page.
Q. What does Medicare pay for an eye exam?
A. With a medical condition of the eye, after satisfying your annual deductible each year, Medicare generally covers 80% of the allowed charges. However, Medicare does not pay for refractions.
Q. When will my insurance pay for glasses (lenses and frames)?
A. Most insurance plans do not cover glasses. However, there are some vision plans that do cover glasses, and after cataract surgery most medical insurances will cover a standard pair of lenses and frames. Our office verifies the patient's insurance coverage the day before the scheduled appointment so that you can know at the appointment what is covered and what is not.
Q. I don't like having my eyes dilated. Is it really necessary?
A. The short answer is yes. Dilation is critical to evaluate the inner layer of the eye called the retina. A healthy retina is needed for good vision. Looking into an undilated eye is like looking into a large room through a very small peephole. It is easy to see straight in but it is challenging to see in the periphery. Some unfortunate problems can occur in the peripheral regions of the retina in otherwise healthy individuals. The most common problem discovered is a retinal tear or hole. Undetected, this can lead to a complete retinal detachment and subsequent vision loss. Once detected, a break in the peripheral retina can be repaired with minimal loss of vision.
Q. I recently lost vision for about 10 minutes but it came back. Should I be concerned?
A. Temporary loss of vision in one eye can be very serious. Typically, the vision suddenly darkens "like a shade coming down" but returns to normal in about 10 minutes. Sometimes this can be relatively harmless, such as when it occurs before a migraine headache. But sometimes it indicates that there has been an interruption in the blood flow to the eye. This can be caused by a clot or cholesterol plaque and may indicate that a stroke is coming. Any loss of vision, even if it returns to normal on its own, needs to be evaluated by an eye specialist without delay.
Q. What are Cataracts?
A. A cataract is a normal aging change that will happen to everyone who lives long enough. The lens that you are born with grows like an onion causing the lens to become less flexible over time (that's why we need reading glasses or 'longer arms' in our forties). Eventually, the fibers of the lens compress one another and become more opaque, allowing less light to reach the retina, causing the vision to degrade (like having a dirty window in the eye).
A cataract is not a 'film' over the eye, and neither diet nor lasers can make it go away. The best way to treat a cataract is to remove the old, clouded lens and provide a replacement.
The first symptoms noticed are usually glare/haze around lights at night and needing brighter lights while reading. When your vision becomes bothersome or declines, putting you at risk for driving, see your eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam. If a cataract is detected, the ophthalmologist surgically removes the 'dirty window' and replaces it with a plastic intraocular lens (IOL) to restore your vision.
Q. What is an "IOL"?
A. An IOL is an IntraOcular Lens. It is a plastic lens that may be surgically implanted to replace the eye's natural lens, usually after cataract surgery.
Q. What types of IOL options should be considered when planning to schedule cataract surgery?
A. There are three IOL options available for implantation by our Ophthalmologists at the time of cataract surgery:
Conventional monofocal lenses focus the eye at distance as well as possible. Astigmatism will not be corrected. At a minimum, reading glasses will be necessary.
Multifocal and accommodating lenses focus the eye to see distance, near, and somewhat in between. These premium lenses are not covered by insurances. Astigmatism will not be corrected.
Toric monofocal lenses treat preexisting astigmatism giving clear distance vision. Reading glasses will still be needed. These premium lenses are not covered by insurances.
Q. How can I have wrinkles in my retina?
A. The retina is a thin layer of nerves lining the back of the eye. Sometimes a transparent film will grow on the retina that may contract over time to pull folds into the retina. This is called a macular pucker or epiretinal membrane. Symptoms of a macular pucker include blurred or distorted vision which worsens very slowly over time. If symptoms are mild then no treatment is needed. But if the vision worsens, surgery may be necessary to gently remove the film and flatten out the retina again. Only an examination by an eye doctor can detect macular puckers at an early stage.
Q. Why am I seeing floaters?
A. Ever notice little bugs flying around in your vision? At some time in their lives, most people will experience floaters, which appear to be small dots or cobwebs drifting in your vision. They are actually small cells or strands drifting within the jelly of the eye known as the vitreous. Most of these particles are harmless and do not require any treatment. Rarely, floaters may be something else altogether, such as blood or pigment from a retinal tear. Because retinal tears can result in a loss of vision, all floaters should be evaluated by an eye doctor to rule out retinal disease.
Q. What is Astigmatism?
A. Astigmatism is the term used to describe when an eyeball has a slightly irregular shape. It requires two lenses blended together to focus the light correctly. Sometimes it is described as though your cornea is shaped like the side of a football instead of a baseball. These conditions can be managed with glasses, contact lenses or refractive surgery.
Q. My medical doctor says that since I have diabetes, I should have my eye health evaluated every year. Is this really important?
A. Yes, it is very important to have your eyes examined every year when you have been diagnosed with diabetes. High blood sugar levels damage the blood vessels within the body causing them to leak blood, fluid and protein. Damage to the retinal blood vessels is referred to as diabetic retinopathy. It is the leading cause of blindness in the United States. If the Ophthalmologist or Optometrist sees blood or protein in your eyes, there is a good chance that it is happening elsewhere in your body like your kidneys, heart, and brain. Early detection of diabetic retinopathy is the best protection against loss of vision.
Q. What is Glaucoma?
A. Glaucoma is the medical term for optic nerve damage caused when the pressure in the eye is too high. The eye holds its shape with fluid that has pressure and this pressure must remain within a normal range or the optic nerve becomes slowly damaged over time. Unfortunately, high pressure cannot be felt by the person so he does not even know he has glaucoma. Worse, the vision loss that results from glaucoma is permanent. Fortunately, there are many treatments for glaucoma, such as eye drops and surgery. Regular ocular examinations by an eye expert will determine if you have glaucoma.
Q. What is Macular Degeneration, and am I at risk?
A. Macular degeneration is a disease of the retina, the lining of visual nerves at the back of the eye. As we age, we are all at risk for macular degeneration, and it can run in families. There are two forms of macular degeneration, dry and wet. There is minimal treatment for dry macular degeneration, and the wet form can sometimes be treated with medications or laser. Wet macular degeneration is caused by abnormal blood vessels growing in the retina which cause bleeding and a more rapid vision loss. Smoking makes macular degeneration worse. Some vitamins may be helpful for decreasing the rate of disease progression. There is a higher incidence in females who smoke. A dilated exam will screen for this eye disease.
Q. Why can't I get an eye transplant?
A. Many people suffer from eye diseases that are without treatment. Fortunately, there are many parts of the eye that are replaceable. If the lens in the eye becomes a cataract, it can be replaced with a plastic lens implant (IOL). Also, the clear windshield in the front of the eye, the cornea, can be replaced with living donor tissue donated from the eye bank. But the whole eye cannot be transplanted because the large optic nerve that connects the retina to the brain will not heal if severed. Hopefully the day is near when diseased retina and optic nerves will be transplanted, as well.
Q. I get a lot of "sleep" in my eyes in the mornings and my eyes burn. What could be the problem?
A. The condition that occurs when there is "sleep" or "matter" in the eyes in the mornings is referred to as blepharitis. Natural bacteria that live on our skin and around the eyes create a mucous that collects into the eyelids and eyelashes. The mucous dries and flakes into the eyes causing burning and itchiness. Good lid hygiene and warm lid scrubs with a washcloth and baby shampoo applied to the eyelids for a few minutes can eliminate the build up and clean the debris from the eyes so that it does not cause irritation. In severe cases, a mild antibiotic can be prescribed to kill the bacteria producing the mucous.
Q. What is Myopia (Nearsightedness)?
A. This is when a person sees well up close but cannot see clearly in the distance.
Q. What is Hyperopia (Farsightedness)?
A. This is when a person sees clearly in the distance but cannot see clearly up close.
Q. My eyes feel like they have sand in them all the time. What is wrong?
A. When the eyes feel like they have sand in them, this usually means that your eyes are dry. Dry eye syndrome is a condition where the tear glands of the eye are not producing a sufficient volume or quality of tears. There are several symptoms that may occur: fluctuating vision, tearing, gritty sensation, burning, or a sharp pain. There are many factors that can influence these symptoms: age, fluctuating hormones, medications, and environmental factors such as smoke or wind. There are a variety of treatments including: artificial tears/ointments, punctal plugs, and prescription medication that can be used to help reduce symptoms.
Q. My eyes frequently feel dry, burn and water excessively. What can I do to get relief?
A. The first step is to have a thorough eye evaluation. The above symptoms indicate a dry eye syndrome. The possible causes of dry eyes are many. Identifying the underlying cause is critical to proper treatment. The goal of treatment is to improve the integrity and amount of natural tears in the eyes. Artificial tear supplements are a starting point for all types of dry eye. Gentle eyelid scrubs and ointments are helpful for patients with poor lid hygiene. Patients whose symptoms are accompanied by moderate to severe irritation may require more aggressive therapies such as anti-inflammatory drops or blocking the tear drains (puncta) with silicone plugs or electrocautery. The best course of therapy depends on the individual presentation.
Q. At certain times of the year my eyes seem to itch severely. What can I do?
A. Severe itching is a sign of ocular allergy, especially when seasonal in nature. The remedy depends on the severity of the symptoms. Eyes that itch severely will need a medication that has a fast acting component. The medication of choice is often a steroid eye drop. For many, however, a prescription strength antihistamine eye drop is sufficient. The newer prescription antihistamines also have a preventive component for people with recurring symptoms. The choice of medication needed is based on the individual's signs and symptoms.
Q. What is a "lazy eye"?
A. Some people have one eye that has never seen very well from early childhood. This lazy eye condition is known as amblyopia. An amblyopic eye is not actually blind and may not have anything physically wrong with it; the brain has chosen to ignore it. The brain can be coerced to utilize the lazy eye again, but after age eight or so, the connections are no longer able to improve. This is one reason why childhood eye examinations are so important.
Q. What is "Pink Eye" and what causes it?
A. "Pink Eye" is a commonly used term to describe infection of the conjunctiva (the outermost layer of the eye and the inner surface of the eyelids). The medical term for this condition is conjunctivitis. A lot of things can cause your eye to look red, which is why Pink Eye is not the best description of the problem. The three most common types of conjunctivitis are: viral, allergic and bacterial. In particular, Pink Eye refers to viral conjunctivitis. Each requires different treatment. With the exception of the allergic type, conjunctivitis is typically contagious. It is important to determine the underlying cause of the redness in order to treat the condition properly.
Q. My eye is red again...Is it ok to use the drops the doctor prescribed last time?
A. Absolutely not, even if they are not expired. There are many causes of a red eye: bacterial infection, allergy, inflammation, and dryness to name a few. The problem with using previously prescribed eye drops is that the cause of this redness has not been evaluated. Assuming your red eye is "the same as the last time" is risky business. For example, if the last medication prescribed was a steroid, it may have worked beautifully for inflammation. If you now suffer from an infection, the same drops will likely worsen your condition.
Q. Are computer screens harmful to the eyes?
A. Extensive testing in government laboratories has established that computer screens emit little or no harmful radiation.
You may notice a variety of symptoms related to eye strain after several hours of computer use, such as red, watery, or dry eyes. A heaviness of the eyelids or forehead and difficulty focusing are also associated with eye strain. To help reduce these symptoms, try changing the screen height, room lighting, or contrast and brightness.
Check with your eye doctor about the best glasses for your working distance from the screen and consider anti-glare coatings for your lenses.
Q. When should I start wearing bifocals?
A. Most people choose to wear a bifocal when the near focusing system begins to decline in the early 40's, making small print difficult to read. This is termed presbyopia. The practical reason people choose to wear a bifocal is to enable clear distance and near vision in one pair of spectacles. Not all bifocals are created equal so inquire about the different types. Although many people dread the "b" word, bifocals are still the most effective strategy for combating presbyopia.
Q. Why can't my eye exam be for contacts and glasses?
A. It can, but there is extra time and work involved in contact lens fitting, which takes a special appointment.
The eyeglass prescription and contact lens prescription are not always the same; this requires some math.
The contact lens sits directly on the front surface of the eye so the specific dimensions and materials selected are critical.
The contact lens is prone to movement, so the fit needs to be assessed while the lens is on the eye.
Since contact lenses pose an increased risk of infection, inflammation and irritation to the eyes, proper care and handling of the lens must be dealt with at each fitting.
Q. What is included in a "contact lens fit exam"?
A. The non-dilated contact lens fit exam includes: exam, lens calculation and prescription, a set of trial soft contact lenses to determine comfort and fit, insertion and removal training, and any other necessary contact lens follow-up appointments within 30 days. A glasses prescription can also be written if it is requested from the doctor at the time of the appointment.
Most insurances do not cover contact lens exams or the cost of contacts. A contact lens fit exam usually starts at $99 for a standard lens; however, if you need astigmatism, bifocal, or colored contacts, the lens fit exam will necessarily cost more, and the fee could be up to $250 due to the higher cost of the contact lens needed.
Once the contact lens prescription is "finalized", the patient can then order a supply of contact lenses. The cost of the contacts varies, depending on your prescription, and it is in addition to the cost of the contact lens fit exam.
Q. Do you recommend extended wear contact lenses?
A. When you sleep in your contact lenses, you are at a greater risk for possible eye complications like corneal ulcers, dryness, ischemia, and neovascularization. Once you have learned to insert and remove the contacts properly, it becomes very easy with practice, and only takes a few seconds. There are some good extended wear contact lenses on the market when used responsibly and as prescribed. Regardless, we do recommend that you remove your lenses every night to minimize the potential risk and promote ocular health.
Q. I wear contact lenses all the time. Why is the doctor insisting I have glasses also?
A. You should not wear contact lenses all the time. Contact lens manufacturers would like you to believe that this is totally acceptable. The reality is that even lenses that are approved for continuous wear may lead to problems. Advances in contact lens materials have made it a much safer practice than it was in the past, but this behavior still increases the risk of eye infection and irritation. Contact lens wearers should have a pair of glasses that are visually and cosmetically comfortable. This will allow a "break" from the contacts. More importantly, if a red eye develops, you can remove the contact lenses and still function with decent vision.
Q. My 14 year old son is asking for contact lenses. Is he too young?
A. There is no age limit for when children can start wearing contact lenses. It is more of a maturity issue. Is your child responsible enough to keep up and maintain safe contact lens use? Wearing contact lenses increases your risk of possible eye complications like infections, corneal ulcers, and corneal neovascularization when not used properly. It is recommended that you talk with your child and decide as a family if your teenager is ready for the responsibility of contact lenses.
Q. Can you explain the contact lens release law for the state of Florida?
A. The Florida law states that after all fees and fitting have been finalized, a daily wear contact lens prescription is valid for 2 years, and must be supplied to the patient. An extended wear contact lens prescription's validity is up to the doctor's professional discretion, and the patient should be re-examined in six months for any corneal changes.
Q. What is the difference between transitional and progressive glasses?
A. Transitions change from light to dark according to lighting conditions. Progressives are multifocals and allow us to see clearly at all distances.
Q. What is the difference between an Ophthalmologist, Optometrist, and Optician?
A. Ophthalmologist: A medical doctor (MD) specially trained in the medical and surgical care and treatment of eye conditions and diseases.
Optometrist: A doctor of optometry (OD): a non-MD specialist trained to examine the eyes for certain vision problems and to treat some eye conditions.
Optician: An individual trained to design, verify, and fit devices to correct eyesight, usually eyeglasses and contact lenses, based on prescriptions from ophthalmologists and optometrists.
Q. Why should I see an optometrist when there is an ophthalmologist on staff?
A. Optometrists are trained to diagnose and treat many conditions of the eye at your routine eye exam, and refer a patient to an ophthalmologist for consult or surgical evaluation, if required. The ophthalmologists treat advanced eye disease and perform surgeries.
Q. I was diagnosed with glaucoma and told that I had to be referred to an eye surgeon. Can't optometrists treat glaucoma also?
A. Yes, optometrists can monitor and manage the treatment of glaucoma. Optometrists are trained in the diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma while in optometry school, and are certified by the State of Florida to do so. There are some instances in advanced glaucoma when the topical drops being administered are no longer effective and a more aggressive technique and/or technology is needed. The use of medical lasers can be used to help reduce intraocular pressures, and in more advanced cases, invasive surgical procedures are needed. These surgical procedures require a referral to an opthalmologist, since optometrists are not licensed or trained in surgical techniques.