See an ophthalmologist if you have any sudden changes in your vision. If he or she suspects or concludes you have a retinal tear or retinal detachment, you will likely be urgently referred to an ophthalmologist who is also a retinal specialist.
Because there's often a lot of ground to cover at your appointment, it's a good idea to be well prepared. Here's some information to help you get ready and what to expect from your doctor:
What you can do
- Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. At the time you make the appointment, be sure to ask if there's anything you need to do in advance.
- Write down any symptoms you're experiencing. Include even those that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Write down key personal information. Include any major stresses or recent life changes.
- Make a list of all your medications. Also include any vitamins or supplements you're taking.
- Take along a family member or friend. Sometimes it can be difficult to take in all the information provided during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may remember something you missed or forgot.
- Write down all your questions.
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 retinal detachment, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What is likely causing my symptoms or condition?
- What are other possible causes for my symptoms or condition?
- What kinds of tests do I need?
- Is my vision loss likely temporary or ongoing?
- What is the best course of action?
- What are the alternatives to the first approach that you're suggesting?
- I have some other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
- Are there any restrictions I need to follow?
- Should I see another specialist?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?
- What will determine whether I should plan for a follow-up visit?
- If I need surgery, how long will recovery take?
- Will I be able to travel after surgery? Will it be safe to travel by plane?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask additional 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 allow more time to cover points you want to address. Your doctor may ask:
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- When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?
- Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
- How severe are your symptoms?
- Have you had any symptoms in your other eye?
- Have you ever had an eye injury?
- Have you ever experienced eye inflammation?
- Have you ever had eye surgery?
- Do you have any other medical conditions, such as diabetes?
- Have any of your family members ever had a retinal detachment?
- Facts about retinal detachment. National Eye Institute. http://www.nei.nih.gov/health/retinaldetach/retinaldetach.asp. Accessed Jan.31, 2013.
- Goldman L, et al. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/191371208-2/0/1492/0.html# Accessed Jan. 31, 2013.
- Posterior vitreous detachment, retinal breaks, and lattice degeneration PPP. San Francisco, CA. American Academy of Ophthalmology. http://one.aao.org/CE/PracticeGuidelines/PPP_Content.aspx?cid=8d149a8a-0c90-4bf8-b3e1-beaffde76079. Accessed Feb. 1, 2013.
- Tintinalli JE, et al. Tintinalli's Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide. 7th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2011. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=40. Accessed Jan. 27, 2013.
- Arroyo JG. Retinal detachment. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Feb.1, 2013.
- Information for healthy vision. National Eye Institute. http://www.nei.nih.gov/lowvision/content/resources.asp. Accessed Feb. 1, 2013.
- Programs and services. American Association for the Blind. http://www.afb.org/default.aspx. Accessed Feb. 1, 2013.
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