About Your Eye Care Visit

Child with glasses taking an eye examThe New England Eye Center’s Pediatrics Service is based on the sixth floor in the famed Floating Hospital for Children on the Tufts Medical Center campus in Boston.

We also see children and adults with strabismus in our Framingham office. The following are some common questions and answers worth review prior to your visit.

What do I bring to my eye exam?

Please bring the following with you:

  • A responsible adult (due to legal requirements, we cannot evaluate unaccompanied minors)
  • Appointment information: the doctor’s name, location & time
  • Updated insurance card
  • Referral from Primary Care Physician, if needed (should show physician’s name, address, and telephone number)
  • Referring physician’s name, address and telephone number if different from your Primary Care Physician
  • Co-payment, if required
  • Medical records from referring physician, if available

What happens during the visit?

For a first visit, there are several steps to the examination. First, we review your medical history and do an initial evaluation that includes testing vision. This may be done by your doctor, by an assistant, or by a resident physician.

At this point, eye drops may be given to dilate the pupils. Once the pupils are dilated, the doctor calls you in to complete the examination.

Who will care for me during the visit?

The attending physician is the doctor who is responsible for your care. Other staff members may assist the attending physician for parts of the exam.

A pediatric ophthalmologist is a medical doctor (MD) specially trained to care for children’s eye conditions. An ophthalmologist can perform surgery.

An optometrist (OD) is an eye doctor who can prescribe glasses or contact lenses and may refer a patient to an ophthalmologist if additional medical care is needed (i.e. surgery).

Tell me more about other people who will be testing me?

A technician is trained to perform vision testing and other parts of the eye exam.

An orthoptist is specially trained to evaluate eye muscle disorders and may measure the eye alignment with prisms or prescribe exercises.

A resident is a medical doctor who will become an ophthalmologist.

Why do we need eye drops?

The eye drops dilate (open) the pupils to allow a better view to the back of the eye for a complete exam of the health of the eye.

The eye drops make it hard to focus the eyes, especially up close, for 4-6 hours (depending on the type of drops given and the patient’s sensitivity). Kids can go back to school afterward but they may have trouble reading or doing homework for several hours.

Adults may or may not be able to drive home. It depends on how severely the vision is blurred by the drops. Plan to have someone accompany you.

How many drops are needed?

At least two drops are usually given in each eye. The drops may sting slightly for 5-10 seconds.

Even though the drops don’t really hurt, many children just don’t like the idea of getting eye drops and may require gentle restraint for a few seconds while we administer the drops.

Could it really take 3 hours for an eye exam?

Registration can take 15 minutes. The history and initial evaluation take about 15 minutes depending on the complexity of the history and cooperation of the patient. Expect to wait about 30 minutes for the drops to work before you will be called back to the exam room.

The final part of the examination and discussion takes another 15 minutes depending on how many questions you might have.

Altogether this is an absolute minimum of one hour for a new patient, but if there are any delays, complexities, or special tests, you might plan to be here for two or even three hours for a first visit.

Will the exam start on time?

We make every effort to stay on schedule, but there are sometimes days when we fall behind schedule due to emergencies or unexpectedly complex eye problems. We try to build time into the schedule for complex patients but it is very difficult to predict accurately. You should be notified when you check-in if there is a delay.

If you find that you have been waiting more than 15 minutes after check-in and you have not yet been called please check with a member of our front desk team for an update.

How do you check vision in a baby or young child and determine if the child needs glasses?

As you will see, we have lots of tricks. Sometimes we check to see how well the child tracks a toy. Sometimes, we use cards that have stripes on one side and watch to see which way the baby looks.

We may also have the child play matching games. Our professional staff tailors the exam to the interest, ability, and age of the patient.

After the dilating drops are given, the doctor uses a light to look at the focus of the eye by placing different lenses in front of the eye until the focus looks correct. Once the proper lens power is determined, the doctor decides whether the patient needs help keeping images in focus. If so, glasses will be prescribed.

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