When looking for a new eye care center, it can be hard to know which one is best for you, particularly if you live in an area with many to choose from.
Of course, just like selecting any provider of medical or other services, the eye doctor you choose is ultimately a personal decision, but there are some questions you should ask in your search to ensure that your eye health needs are met.
Do you have vision insurance?
This may go without saying, but if you do have insurance, one of the first questions you should ask is if the eye doctor you are considering is on your insurance plan. Otherwise, you may be hit with out-of-network charges.
If you are without vision insurance, then it’s worth the time and effort to inquire about cash payment plans or other pricing plans for uninsured patients. This can save you a significant amount on your eye care.
Are you just looking for a routine comprehensive eye exam?
If your primary concern is making sure you get an exam, then either an optometrist or ophthalmologist can perform an exam. Learn more about the differences between the different kinds of eye doctors here.
Make sure that the doctor you select has the right education and credentials. Diplomas and licenses must be posted in waiting rooms.
Sometimes you can get a feel for the doctors, staff and office atmosphere by checking out their website, social media pages, or via online reviews. When in doubt, never be afraid to call or drop in on an office to ask questions and to find out if it feels like a good fit.
Do you need a new eyeglasses or contact lens prescription?
Of course, every eye doctor’s office can fit you with a new prescription, but if you’re due for new glasses, look for a center that has an in-house eyeglasses boutique. That way you can try on various styles, and the optician can help you in your selection and explain the different types of lenses, coatings, and so on.
If you are currently wearing a brand of contact lens that is working well for you, but it’s time for a prescription update, you might want to check to make sure the eye care center sells that particular brand. If not, they may be able to recommend another brand that will provide a similar experience.
Do you want to learn about other vision correction options?
If you’ve been considering alternatives to glasses or contacts — such as laser surgery or Ortho-K — then look for an eye care center that offers a variety of those kinds of services.
Do you have a difficult schedule?
Some vision centers have flexible office hours, offering early morning, evening, or even Saturday appointments. If this is important to you, make sure to choose an office that can accommodate your scheduling needs.
Do you have kids who need eye care?
Some eye care centers have doctors and staff that specialize in treating children. This can be particularly helpful if you have a child who gets anxious about going to the eye doctor.
Eye care centers that have a pediatric focus might have toys, children’s books, or kid-sized furniture in the waiting room, which can go a long way in appeasing your child’s worries and fears. Plus, the staff at family-friendly centers are especially good at explaining each step of the eye exam in ways that your child can understand.
Do you have risk factors for eye diseases?
If you already know you’re at risk for glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, or other eye diseases or disorders, then try to find an eye care center that specializes in that treatment.
An eye care center that has an ophthalmologist on staff, who is qualified to perform surgery, may be a good option.
Are you currently experiencing pain or other trouble with your eye health?
Often if you have a sudden onset of pain, it’s critical to see an eye doctor right away. If you’re not sure who to see (and you don’t just want to pick a doctor at random), ask friends and family members for recommendations.