You're likely to start by seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner if you have symptoms of trachoma. However, in some cases when you call to set up an appointment, you may be referred immediately to an eye specialist (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. 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 the time leading up to your appointment. For example, if your child has signs or symptoms of an eye condition, ask whether you should keep your child home from school or child care.
- Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any details about changes in your vision. Are you sensitive to light? Has your vision become blurred? Do your eyes hurt or just itch?
- Write down key personal information, including any trips you or someone close to you may have taken abroad. Also include information about any recent changes to corrective lenses, such as new contacts or glasses.
- Make a list of all medications and any vitamins or 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 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 eye irritation, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What is likely causing my symptoms?
- Other than the most likely cause, what are 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?
- Will I have any long-term complications from this condition?
- Are there any restrictions that I need to follow, such as staying home from work or school?
- 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 me?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend visiting?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment at any time that 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 reserve time to go over points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:
- Have you or someone close to you traveled abroad recently?
- Have you ever had a similar problem?
- Have you made any changes to your corrective lenses, such as wearing new contacts or using new contact lens solution?
- When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?
- How severe are your symptoms? Do they seem to be getting worse?
- What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
- What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
- Is anyone else in your household having similar symptoms?
- Have you been treating your symptoms with any medications or drops?
What you can do in the meantime
While you are waiting for your appointment, practice good hygiene to reduce the possibility of spreading your condition:
Oct. 03, 2012
- Don't touch your eyes without first washing your hands.
- Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently.
- Change your towel and washcloth daily, and don't share them with others.
- Change your pillowcase often.
- Discard eye cosmetics, particularly mascara.
- Don't use anyone else's eye cosmetics or personal eye care items.
- Discontinue wearing your contact lenses until your eyes have been evaluated; then follow your eye doctor's instructions on proper contact lens care.
- If your child is infected, have him or her avoid close contact with other children.
- Hygiene-related diseases: Trachoma. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/hygiene/disease/trachoma.html. Accessed Aug. 17, 2012.
- Water-related diseases: Trachoma. World Health Organization. http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/diseases/trachoma/en/index.html. Accessed Aug. 17, 2012.
- Wright HR. Epidemiology, diagnosis, and management of trachoma. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Aug. 17, 2012.
- Trachoma. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/eye_disorders/conjunctival_and_scleral_disorders/trachoma.html?qt=trachoma&alt=sh. Accessed Aug. 17, 2012.
- Conjunctivitis. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/eye_disorders/conjunctival_and_scleral_disorders/conjunctivitis.html?qt=conjunctivitis&alt=sh. Accessed Aug. 23, 2012.
- Trachoma overview. International Trachoma Initiative. http://trachoma.org/world%E2%80%99s-leading-cause-preventable-blindness. Accessed Aug. 17, 2012.
- WHO simplified trachoma grading system. Community Eye Health. 2004;17:52. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1705737. Accessed Aug. 23, 2012.
- Prevention of blindness and visual impairment: Trachoma. World Health Organization. http://www.who.int/blindness/causes/trachoma/en/index.html. Accessed Aug. 24, 2012.
- Blindness, trachoma in children under 10 in 2003. Global Health Atlas. World Health Organization.http://apps.who.int/globalatlas/dataQuery/. Accessed Sept. 6, 2012.
- Robertson DM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Sept. 5, 2012.