What to Expect at Your First Retina Appointment
Your first appointment with a retina specialist can seem daunting. Patients aren’t always sure of what to expect, what’s needed of them, and what the experience will entail. On top of these concerns, if you’re visiting our office, you are dealing with a retina issue that could be impeding your quality of life and daily activities.
Our goal is to offer a world-class patient experience – from the moment you enter our door to the moment you leave – that is stress-free. Our teams are highly trained and dedicated to treating you with the utmost respect and compassion.
Your First Visit
A first appointment/consultation with our office is highly comprehensive. Patients can be surprised at the amount of time required for a first visit, but in order to provide effective care, we need to have as much information about your retina situation as possible. Most patients will need to spend around 2-3 hours with us during the exam process, which includes:
- Preliminary imaging
- The screening process
- A full examination by your doctor
- Additional diagnostic testing (if needed); some additional testing can be performed same-day
- Treatment (if needed); some treatment can be performed same-day
How can I prepare for my visit?
For your first appointment, you will be given the opportunity to complete your new patient paperwork online. If you do not wish to complete necessary paperwork prior to your visit or need further assistance, we kindly recommend that you arrive 15 minutes early.
Please be sure to bring the following with you:
- Your insurance card
- If your insurance requires a physician referral, please obtain the referral prior to your appointment.
- A photo ID
- List of any medications you are taking (including eye glasses and eye drops)
- A confirmed plan to travel home safely
- Your eyes will be dilated during your visit, making your vision blurry and your eyes more sensitive to light for several hours. If you are not using public transportation, or do not feel comfortable driving yourself home, please consider arranging transportation.
You can learn more about your first appointment with Austin Retina here. Please see this webpage for PDF versions of our new patient paperwork in both English and Spanish, as well as our Notice of Privacy Practices.
If you’d like to schedule an appointment with our practice today, please call 800-252-8259 or complete an online contact form.
Ophthalmologists are a type of doctor that specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of all eye diseases. A retina specialist is a specific type of ophthalmologist that has gone through at least 2 years of additional education and training in the medical and surgical care of illnesses related to the retina, macula, and vitreous.
Retina specialists utilize several different diagnostic tests to determine the presence of various retinal and macular conditions. These tests can include:
- Optical coherence tomography (OCT), a non-invasive imaging technique that is used to capture cross-sectional images of retinal structures
- Fundus photography, a form of digital color photography that captures images of the retina and the optic nerve
- Fluorescein angiography, an exam in which the patient is injected with a dye that helps highlight abnormalities in the retinal vasculature
- Indocyanine green angiography, which is similar to fluorescein angiography but includes the usage of a green dye for contrast enhancement
- Autofluorescence photography, a type of digital photography that relies on blue fluorescent light to identify retinal pathologies
- Standardized A&B-scan echography, an exam in which high-frequency sound waves are used to scan the eye’s internal structures
- Visual field testing, also known as perimetry, a test that helps to assess a patient’s central and peripheral vision
Before starting the exam, your doctor will likely use eye drops to dilate your pupils.
Because a retinal exam is extensive, it can take up to three hours for a retina exam. This includes imaging, screening, the full exam, additional diagnostic testing (if needed), and same-day treatment (if needed).
Retinal diagnostic exams typically cause very little discomfort. However, the eye drops that are used to dilate the pupils can temporarily cause light sensitivity and blurred vision.
A good rule of thumb is to schedule a comprehensive eye exam at least once a year. For patients with conditions such as wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) or diabetic retinopathy, you may need to see your regular ophthalmologist or retina specialist more frequently.
Retinal imaging scans can detect the vast majority of retinal, macular, and vitreal diseases and conditions, including AMD, retinal detachment, diabetic retinopathy, retinal vein occlusion, and more.
Before undergoing a retina exam, it’s best if you don’t do anything to overexert your eyes. Take a break from looking at screens in the hours leading up to your exam or rest your eyes, if possible. Also, try to avoid anything that can impact your blood pressure, such as caffeine. While these activities won’t hurt you during a retina exam, they can potentially throw off the results of the tests.