FAQs

What are the Differences Between an Ophthalmologist, an Optometrist and an Optician?
Why Should I Have My Eyes Examined By an Ophthalmologist?
How Often Should I Have My Eyes Examined?
When Should My Child Have His or Her First Eye Exam?
Why Does Dr. Callahan Need to Look at My Contact Lenses Every Year?
Does My Medical Insurance Cover the Cost of an Eye Exam by Dr. Callahan?
Do I Need a Referral to See Dr. Callahan?
What is Refraction and Why Do I Have to Pay For It?
Do I Need to Bring My Insurance Card to Every Appointment?
Will My Eyes Be Dilated During My Eye Exam?
How Long Will I Be at Your Office for a Complete Eye Exam?
Can I Drive With My Eyes Dilated?
How Long Do the Effects of the Dilating Drops Last?
Does Dr. Callahan Participate with Medicare?
Whose Dog is That?
How Much is an Eye Exam Without Insurance or “Out of Network?”
Should I Take Vitamins For My Eyes?
Is There Any Treatment For Cataracts Other Than Surgery?
Do My Cataracts Have to be “Ripe” Before I Can Have Them Taken Out?
How Long is the Recovery After Cataract Surgery?
Are Cataracts Removed With a Laser?

What are the Differences Between an Ophthalmologist, an Optometrist and an Optician?

Many people are not aware of the differences between ophthalmologists, optometrists and opticians. The three different professionals are all distinct, with different educational backgrounds, different licensing boards, and different interests.

  • Ophthalmologists: The only eye care professional required to complete a four-year pre-medical university education, and then complete a four-year study in an accredited medical school. They earn their medical doctorate (M.D.), after which a residency is required. Most ophthalmologists complete a one-year internship in medical training, and then a three-to-four year residency in ophthalmology, training in all medical and surgical diseases of the eye, as well as refractions. Some ophthalmologists then spend an additional one-to-two years training in a specialized field of ophthalmology (i.e., retina, cornea, glaucoma, plastics and neuro-ophthalmology). They are board certified by a national board of medical examiners, and licensed by a state board of medical examiners, and must continue to take educational courses.
  • Optometrist: Optometrists complete a four-year course of study (School of Optometry) and must be certified by a national board of examiners. They have earned a doctorate of optometry (O.D.), and are licensed by state regulatory boards. They specialize in the examination of eyes for glasses and contacts. They do perform complete eye exams as well, to monitor for the presence of any disease conditions. In recent years, state legislators have allowed optometrists to treat some basic eye conditions. In some situations, optometrists co-manage post operative visits with the ophthalmologist as well.
  • Optician: An optician is an eye care professional who specializes in the preparation and fitting of ophthalmic appliances including eyeglasses, contact lens, low vision aids, and other ophthalmic devices designed for the relief, prevention or correction of visual anomalies. An optician does not do the eye exam itself, but is trained in adjusting glasses or contacts best for each particular patient. At this time, certification by the by the American Board of Opticianry and/or the National Contact Lens Examiners is strictly optional.

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Why Should I Have My Eyes Examined By an Ophthalmologist?

Many eye diseases, including glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration, do not have any symptoms in the early stages. Early diagnosis and treatment of eye disease is the most important factor in preventing vision loss.

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How Often Should I Have My Eyes Examined?

The American Academy of Ophthalmology now recommends that adults with no signs or risk factors for eye disease have a baseline comprehensive eye exam by an ophthalmologist at age 40 — this is the time when early signs of disease and changes in vision may start to occur without causing any symptoms. These include glaucoma (primary open angle glaucoma) and diabetic retinopathy.

Much like mammograms at 40 or colon screenings at 50, this eye disease screening is a reminder to adults as they age that they need to maintain their eye health. A thorough ophthalmologic evaluation can uncover common abnormalities of the visual system and related structures, as well as less common but extremely serious ones, such as ocular tumors. This evaluation can also uncover evidence of many forms of systemic disease that affect the eyes, like hypertension and diabetes. Interim evaluations, such as screenings, refractions, or less extensive evaluations, are indicated to address episodic minor problems and complaints or for patient reassurance. Other situations may warrant a comprehensive medical eye evaluation. The extent of the interim evaluation is determined by the patient’s condition and by Dr. Callahan’s medical judgment.

For individuals at any age with symptoms or who at risk for eye disease, such as those with a family history of eye disease, diabetes or high blood pressure, Dr. Callahan will determine how often you should have your eyes examined. Of course, regular visits to Dr. Callahan to treat ongoing disease or injuries, or for vision examinations for eyeglasses or contact lenses, are often necessary at any age.

You may have a higher risk for eye disease if you fall into any of the following categories:

  • You have diabetes, hypertension, or a family history of ocular disease (e.g., glaucoma, macular degeneration)
  • You work in occupations that are highly demanding visually or eye hazardous
  • You take prescription or nonprescription drugs with ocular side effects
  • You wear contact lenses
  • You have had eye surgery
  • You have other significant health concerns or conditions

With appropriate intervention, potentially blinding diseases such as glaucoma, cataract and diabetic retinopathy often have a favorable outcome.

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When Should My Child Have His or Her First Eye Exam?

The American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus recommend the following exams:

  • Newborn. A pediatrician, family doctor or other trained health professional should examine a newborn baby’s eyes and perform a red reflex test (a basic indicator that the eyes are normal) at birth. An ophthalmologist should perform a comprehensive exam if the baby is premature or at high risk for medical problems for other reasons, has signs of abnormalities, or has a family history of serious vision disorders in childhood.
  • Infant. A second screening for eye health should be done by trained health professional at a well-child exam between six months and the first birthday.
  • Preschooler. Around age 3 a pediatrician, family doctor or person trained in vision assessment of preschool children should assess a child’s vision and eye alignment. Visual acuity should be tested as soon as the child is old enough to cooperate with an eye exam using an eye chart. If misaligned eyes (strabismus), “lazy eye” (amblyopia), refractive errors (myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism) or another focusing problem is suspected in the initial screening, the child should have a comprehensive exam by an ophthalmologist.
  • School age. Upon entering school, or whenever a problem is suspected, children’s eyes should be screened for visual acuity and alignment by a pediatrician, family doctor, ophthalmologist, or person trained in vision assessment of school-aged children, such as a school nurse. Nearsightedness (myopia) is the most common refractive error in this age group and can be corrected with eyeglasses. Dr. Callahan recommends a comprehensive eye examination by an ophthalmologist for healthy children prior to starting kindergarten.

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Why Does Dr. Callahan Need to Look at My Contact Lenses Every Year?

Lenses that are old or do not fit properly may scratch the eye, cause inflammation or cause blood vessels to grow into the cornea. Because the surface of the eye, including the cornea, can change over time, the fit of the contact lens and the power should be re-evaluated on a regular basis. Your return visits will be scheduled depending on the condition of your eyes and visual needs. As with any prescription, contact lens prescriptions do expire — typically within one year. In general Dr. Callahan must evaluate your contact lenses at least once per year in order to renew your prescription. These regular exams are also important opportunities for reinforcing proper lens care.

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Does My Medical Insurance Cover the Cost of an Eye Exam by Dr. Callahan?

Our office will file with your insurance company if the following conditions are met:

  • Dr. Callahan participates with your insurance. You will be asked for your insurance information when you schedule your appointment. (You are expected to confirm with your insurance company that Dr. Callahan is a participant in your insurance network of physicians. If not, you may see Dr. Callahan on an “out of network” basis, and you will be responsible for payment in full at the time of service.
  • You have a medical diagnosis at the time of your visit. Dr. Callahan will be able to determine this only after examining your eyes.

It is your responsibility to determine all limitations on physician visits imposed by your insurance company. Please remember that insurance coverage is an agreement between the policyholder and the insurance company. While we will make every effort to bill your insurance in a timely manner, you are ultimately responsible for payment of all charges generated by an office visit that are not paid by your insurance company

We do not file the refraction fee to your insurance as most insurance companies (including Medicare) consider it a non-medical service. This is the fee for determining your new glasses prescription.

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Do I Need a Referral to See Dr. Callahan?

Some patients will be required by their insurance company to obtain a referral from their primary care physician authorizing their visit with Dr. Callahan. It is your responsibility to obtain this referral and to be sure that this information is communicated to Dr. Callahan’s office before your visit.

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What is Refraction and Why Do I Have to Pay For It?

Refraction is the measurement of the focus error of an eye. It determines the set of lenses that will best focus the light entering the eye. Refraction is used to:

  • Determine the health and visual potential of an eye
  • Aid in performing tests such as visual fields
  • To prescribe glasses and/or contact lenses

Refraction is considered a non-medical service by most insurance companies and is therefore usually a non-covered service. The refraction fee is $38 and is due at time of service.

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Do I Need to Bring My Insurance Card to Every Appointment?

Yes. Please bring your insurance card and photo ID, as well as a list of your medications and any other pertinent medical information, to every appointment.

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Will My Eyes Be Dilated During My Eye Exam?

If you are scheduled for a complete eye exam, i.e. a comprehensive eye exam, Dr. Callahan will need to dilate your eyes in order to see the retina, optic nerve and lens of your eyes. This is important for evaluation of the overall health of your eyes, including screening for macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataracts. Many follow-up examinations for specific conditions do not involve dilations. When you schedule your exam with Dr. Callahan, you will be advised as to whether your eyes will be dilated.

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How Long Will I Be at Your Office for a Complete Eye Exam?

The time may vary, but you should plan on being at our office for about an hour and a half for a complete eye exam.

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Can I Drive With My Eyes Dilated?

Dilation mainly affects near vision. Because the pupil does work normally after dilation – i.e. it does not constrict to control the amount of light entering the eye, light sensitivity may cause diminished distance vision. Only you can determine whether you feel safe driving with your eyes dilated. We suggest that you bring a driver with you if you plan to have your eyes dilated.

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How Long Do the Effects of the Dilating Drops Last?

They generally last about four to six hours.

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Does Dr. Callahan Participate with Medicare?

Dr. Callahan is a Medicare participating physician.

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casperWhose Dog is That?

Dr. Callahan’s dog, Casper, “works” behind the front desk.

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How Much is an Eye Exam Without Insurance or “Out of Network”?

It varies based on the exam. The charge for a complete dilated eye exam is $188 for a new patient. The refraction fee is $38.

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Should I Take Vitamins For My Eyes?

Certain vitamins are beneficial for preventing progression of macular degeneration in patients who already have certain forms of the disease. They have not been shown to prevent eye disease. Dr. Callahan will discuss with you whether you might benefit from vitamin supplements.

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Is There Any Treatment For Cataracts Other Than Surgery?

Surgery is the only treatment for cataracts.

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Do My Cataracts Have to be “Ripe” Before I Can Have Them Taken Out?

In general, your cataracts may be removed when they are limiting your vision. In other words, we want to treat cataracts when the vision change that they are causing is interfering with your day-to-day life. Dr. Callahan will discuss this with you so that you can make an informed decision.

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How Long is the Recovery After Cataract Surgery?

In most cases patients may return to normal activities right after surgery, although driving is not permitted the day of surgery. Many patients feel comfortable driving to their one-day post- operative appointment at Dr. Callahan’s office.

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Are Cataracts Removed With a Laser?

While there is a new laser that may be used to perform some of the steps of cataract surgery, the cataract itself is not removed with a laser. This is called the femtosecond laser. While it may produce more precise incisions and possibly more consistent results, its benefit is still somewhat controversial. This laser is not currently in widespread use. The most common way that cataracts are removed is with phacoemulsification. A small incision is made in the front of the eye (about 2.4 mm), and ultrasound energy is used to break up or emulsify the cataract for removal.

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