Preparing for your appointment

By Mayo Clinic Staff

You're likely to start by seeing your family doctor. However, in some cases when you call to set up an appointment, you may be referred to a neuro-ophthalmologist or a neurologist — a doctor who specializes in nervous system disorders, including diseases of the brain, spinal cord, nerves and muscles.

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.

What you can do

  • Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. At the time you make the appointment, ask if there's anything you need to do in advance.
  • 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 major stresses, recent life changes and any past injuries.
  • Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements that you're taking.
  • Take a family member or friend along, if possible. Sometimes it can be difficult to soak up all the information provided to you during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.
  • Write down questions to ask your doctor.

Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions will help you make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out. For Horner syndrome some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • What is likely causing my symptoms?
  • Are there other possible causes for my symptoms?
  • What kinds of tests do I need?
  • Is my condition likely temporary or chronic?
  • What is the best course of action?
  • What are the alternatives to the primary approach that you're suggesting?
  • I have these other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
  • Are there any restrictions that I need to follow?
  • Should I see a specialist?
  • Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend?

In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions 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 reserve time to go over any points you want to spend more time on later. Be as specific as you can when answering. Your doctor may ask:

  • When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?
  • Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
  • How severe are your symptoms?
  • What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
  • What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?

What you can do in the meantime

Avoid doing anything that seems to worsen your symptoms.

Apr. 16, 2011