You may start by seeing or calling your family doctor or a general practitioner if you have eye-related signs or symptoms that worry you. Depending on the type and severity of your signs and symptoms, your doctor may refer you to an eye specialist (ophthalmologist) after an initial exam. Or, you may need to go directly to an ophthalmologist.
Because appointments can be brief, and because there's often a lot to talk about, it's a good idea to be well prepared.
What you can do
- Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions when you make the appointment. Ask if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as stop wearing contact lenses or discontinue using eyedrops.
- Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins and supplements that you're taking.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions can help you make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out. For keratitis, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What is likely causing my symptoms?
- What are other possible causes for my symptoms?
- What kinds of tests do I need?
- What is the best course of action?
- What are the alternatives to the approach you're suggesting?
- I have other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
- Are there any restrictions that I need to follow?
- Should I see a specialist? What will that cost, and will my insurance cover it?
- Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?
- What will determine whether I need to be seen for a follow-up visit?
In addition to the questions you've prepared, don't hesitate to ask your doctor other questions anytime you don't understand something.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may allow time later to cover points you want to address. Your doctor may ask:
Sept. 20, 2012
- When did you 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?
- Has your eye been injured recently?
- Have you been swimming or been in a hot tub recently?
- Do your symptoms affect one eye or both eyes?
- Do you use contact lenses?
- How do you clean your contact lenses?
- How often do you replace your contact lens storage case?
- Have you had a similar problem in the past?
- Are you using eyedrops now or have you used any recently?
- How is your general health?
- Have you ever had a sexually transmitted infection?
- Are you taking prescription medications or supplements?
- Mandell GL, et al. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-443-06839-3..X0001-X--TOP&isbn=978-0-443-06839-3&uniqId=230100505-57. Accessed Aug. 1, 2012.
- What is bacterial keratitis? American Academy of Ophthalmology. http://www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/diseases/bacterial-keratitis.cfm. Accessed Aug. 3, 2012.
- Yanoff M, ed., et al. Ophthalmology. 3rd ed. Edinburgh, U.K.: Mosby Elsevier; 2009. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/212799885-2/0/1869/0.html. Accessed Aug. 1, 2012.
- Contact lens-related infections. American Academy of Ophthalmology. http://www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/diseases/contact-lens-related-infections.cfm. Accessed Aug. 1, 2012.
- Jacobs DS. Evaluation of the red eye. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Aug. 1, 2012.
- What is fungal keratitis? American Academy of Ophthalmology. http://www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/diseases/fungal-keratitis.cfm. Accessed Aug. 1, 2012.
- What is herpes keratitis? American Academy of Ophthalmology. http://www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/diseases/herpes-keratitis.cfm. Accessed Aug. 1, 2012.
- Sugar A. Herpes simplex keratitis. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Aug. 1, 2012.
- Facts about the cornea and corneal disease. National Eye Institute. http://www.nei.nih.gov/health/cornealdisease/. Accessed Aug. 1, 2012.
- Nicoll D, et al. Pocket Guide to Diagnostic Tests. 5th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2008. http://www.accessmedicine.com/pocketDiagnostic.aspx?type=5. Accessed Aug. 3, 2012.
- Free-living amebas. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/infectious_diseases/extraintestinal_protozoa/free-living_amebas.html?qt=free%20ameba&alt=sh. Accessed Aug. 3, 2012.
- Contact lens risks. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/HomeHealthandConsumer/ConsumerProducts/ContactLenses/ucm062589.htm. Accessed Aug. 1, 2012.
- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=9096708. Accessed Aug. 1, 2012.
- Comprehensive eye and vision examination. American Optometric Association. http://www.aoa.org/eye-exams.xml. Accessed Aug. 3, 2012.
- Robertson DM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Aug. 17, 2012.