Start by seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner if you have any eye problems that worry you. Your doctor may then refer you to an eye specialist (ophthalmologist).
Because appointments can be brief, and because there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to be well prepared for your appointment. Here's some information to help you get ready and know what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Write down key personal information, including any recent life changes.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements that you're taking.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Preparing a list of questions can help you make the most of your time with your doctor. For dry eyes, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What's the most likely cause of my dry eyes?
- Do I need any tests?
- Can dry eyes get better on their own?
- What are my treatment options?
- What are the potential side effects of each treatment?
- Are there alternatives to the primary approach that you're suggesting?
- I have these other health conditions. How can I best manage these conditions together?
- Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing me?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?
- Do I need to plan for a follow-up visit?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask additional questions that may occur to you during your appointment.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may allow more time later to cover points you want to address. Your doctor may ask:
- Can you describe your symptoms?
- Do you recall when you first began experiencing symptoms?
- Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
- Do other members of your family have dry eyes?
- Have you tried over-the-counter eyedrops? Did they provide relief?
- Are your symptoms worse in the morning or late in the day?
- What medications do you take?
What you can do in the meantime
To relieve your signs and symptoms while you wait for your appointment, try over-the-counter eyedrops. Look for lubricating eyedrops and avoid those that reduce redness in the eyes. Eyedrops that reduce eye redness can cause additional eye irritation.
Aug. 04, 2012
- Facts about dry eye. National Eye Institute. http://www.nei.nih.gov/health/dryeye/dryeye.asp. Accessed June 14, 2012
- Preferred Practice Pattern: Dry eye syndrome. San Francisco, Calif.: American Academy of Ophthalmology. http://one.aao.org/CE/PracticeGuidelines/PPP_Content.aspx?cid=127dbdce-4271-471a-b6d9-464b9d15b748. Accessed June 14, 2012.
- Shtein RM. Dry eyes. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed June 14, 2012.
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- Stevenson W, et al. Dry eye disease. Archives of Ophthalmology. 2012;130:90.
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- Care of the patient with ocular surface disorders. St. Louis, Mo.: American Optometric Association. http://www.aoa.org/x4813.xml. Accessed June 14, 2012.
- Rand AL, et al. Nutritional supplements for dry eye syndrome. Current Opinion in Ophthalmology. 2011;22:279.
- Arita R, et al. Caffeine increases tear volume depending on polymorphisms within the adenosine a2a receptor gene and cytochrome p450 1a2. Ophthalmology 2012;119:972.
- Robertson DM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. June 27, 2012.