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Eye Exams Don’t Have to be Scary 

St Lucie Eye puts your fears at ease.

Welcome to Halloween Season. Want to hear something really scary? Forty percent of people at high risk for eye disease did not have an eye exam last year.  

That amounts to nearly 93 million adults in the US, or about 4 in 10, according to a study published in JAMA Ophthalmology.  Adults at high risk for vision loss include those who have diabetes, existing vision and eye problems, or those who are 65 and older. 

Scarier still is the fact that preventable vision loss is expected to increase nearly 30% in the next decade. 

As eye care professionals, it’s disheartening to know that patients avoid eye exams because they’re afraid. After all, it’s our mission to provide compassionate, personal care and we want everyone to experience healthy vision throughout their lives.  – Dr. Satyesh Rana, Board Certified Ophthalmologist

Why are Patients Afraid of the Eye Doctor?  

The most common reasons people avoid going to the eye doctor are fear of the unknown and inconvenience. Maybe you can relate to some of these statements:

“I’m scared of the air puff!” 

  • Good News! The ophthalmologists at St Lucie Eye do not use the dreaded ‘air puff’ as part of their glaucoma testing. Applanation tonometry – considered the gold standard for measuring eye pressure – is performed after the eye is numbed with drops. No ‘jump scares’!  

“The bright lights hurt my eyes.” 

  • Certain tests are used during a comprehensive exam that involve bright lights. They may cause discomfort from glare, especially when the eyes are dilated. The tests are brief and provide detailed information about your eye health. The slit-lamp allows the doctor to get a highly magnified view of the inner eye using a lighted instrument and fundus cameras capture a high-resolution photo of the back of the eye using a bright flash.   

“My eyes are blurry after an eye exam.” 

  • Dilation enlarges the pupils to allow more light into the eye so your doctor can check for evidence of eye disease such as diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and macular degeneration (AMD). Most people can expect dilation to last somewhere between 4 and 24 hours and the effects may last the longest for those with light colored eyes. Dilation can cause vision to be blurred for several hours and cause a sensitivity to light and glare. The best remedy is to have an appointment late in the day, wear sunglasses and avoid reading until the effects wear off.  

“The Which is Better – One or Two test makes me anxious.” 

  • Refraction is the test that helps determine your RX for glasses or contacts. It’s important to know you won’t fail the test because you can’t decide between one-or-two. Your technician already has an estimate of your prescription strength when they begin to ask these questions. If two options look the similar, it is ok to say, ‘can’t decide’ or ‘don’t know’. The closer we get to your correct lens prescription, the more two images will look the same.  

“I don’t want to wear glasses all the time.” 

  • Many times, people fear the unknown from an eye exam. They’re afraid their blurry vision might be something worse or they simply don’t want to wear glasses. But wishing and hoping is not a worthwhile strategy, and not knowing the cause of your vision changes won’t make them go away. It bears repeating that cases of severe vision loss and blindness are preventable in most cases. Seeing your eye doctor regularly can uncover problems early and protect your eyesight long-term. 
  • Getting glasses can improve your overall quality of life and make everyday activities, like driving, easier and safer.  

“I can’t handle anything near my eye.” 

  • Ommetaphobia is a phobia rooted in anxiety about the eyes. Some people get squeamish about the thought of an eye exam or anything near their eye. This could be from a poor past experience or trauma to the eye. Let your eye doctor know of your fears and they will take additional precautions with your care. Consider bringing a family member or friend along to distract your attention and minimize your discomfort.  

How to Face Your Fears at the Eye Doctor

Educate yourself about eye health. 

  • Knowing the benefits of regular eye exams can help outweigh the fear. Early detection, improved quality of life, and personalized care are just a few reasons why regular eye visits are essential. Your eye care team will educate you during each stage of the exam so that you feel comfortable and at ease.  
  • It’s comforting to realize that up to 75% of all vision loss is preventable or treatable with early intervention. 
  • Seniors with unchecked vision loss are more likely to end up in a nursing home and are at higher risk for hip fractures, falls, and depression.  

Schedule regular eye exams. 

  • Remember how we said 75% of vision loss is preventable? Many eye diseases begin without warning or visual symptoms, especially after age 50. Keep your recommended visits to the eye doctor, even if you haven’t noticed a dramatic change to your vision.  
  • Reasons to see the eye doctor don’t always include changes in vision. You may need an eye exam if you have frequent headaches, have trouble focusing, or feeling like something is in your eye. 
  • Chronic medical conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, and diabetes can mean that you have an increased risk of eye disease. On the other hand, these conditions are many times first discovered during a comprehensive eye examination.  

Distract yourself while waiting.  

  • Eye exams may take a while, up to 90 minutes on average. As much as 30 minutes of the time is spent waiting for dilation drops to take effect. Bring a book, listen to an audiobook with earbuds, or even needle stitch. 
  • Consider bringing a friend to chat with while waiting. It can also help to have extra ears in the exam room to remember everything that is covered. 
  • If you’re anxious about just being in the doctor’s office, request the first appointment of the day to minimize your time waiting and avoid sitting in a crowded lobby.

The St Lucie Eye Promise – Have No Fear

We understand that not everyone has the same comfort level when it comes to having their eyes examined, but delaying vision care or tests can jeopardize your health. We’re here for you with calm, comforting, care.  

How often do I need an eye appointment? 

  • Call our reception team. They are trained to triage symptoms, personal medical history and hereditary risk to identify appropriate appointment frequency.  
  • See an ophthalmologist for a baseline eye disease screening at age 40, even if you have no problems with your vision because early signs of disease often begin at this age. 
  • We take eye emergencies seriously and do our best to handle them quickly. If we are unable to see you for an eye emergency, we will refer you to another provider. 

Will my services be covered by insurance?  

  • St Lucie Eye accepts most major medical insurance plans including Medicare Advantage PPOs. 
  • Vision plans are accepted for routine vision exams and for glasses and contacts.  
  • Contact our billing team to ask about out-of-pocket expenses that may be associated with your plan.   

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  1. American Academy of Ophthalmology. (n.d.). Eye Exams: What to Expect During an Eye Exam. https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/what-to-expect-eye-exam
  2. National Eye Institute. (2022). Aging and Your Eyes. https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/aging-your-eyes