Preparing for your appointmentBy Mayo Clinic staff
Make an appointment with your usual eye care provider if you notice changes in your vision. If it's determined that you have cataracts, you may be referred to an eye specialist who can perform cataract surgery (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 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 major stresses or recent life changes.
- Make a list of all medications, as well as any vitamins or supplements, that you're taking.
- Take a family member or friend along. Sometimes it can be difficult to absorb all the information provided 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 cataracts, some basic questions to ask include:
- Are cataracts causing my vision problems?
- What are other possible causes for my vision problems?
- What kinds of tests do I need?
- Do I need cataract surgery?
- Will cataract surgery correct my vision problems?
- What are the potential risks of cataract surgery?
- Can I drive myself home after cataract surgery?
- How much time will I need to recover from cataract surgery?
- Will any usual activities be restricted after cataract surgery? For how long?
- After cataract surgery, how long should I wait before getting new glasses?
- If I use Medicare, will it cover the cost of cataract surgery? Does Medicare cover the cost of new glasses after surgery?
- How long can I take to decide about cataract surgery?
- If I wait a year or more before having surgery, will this make it more likely that surgery won't restore my vision?
- If I don't want surgery right now, what else can I do to cope with my vision changes?
- How will I know if my cataracts are getting worse?
- 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? What will that cost, and will my insurance cover it?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take with me? What Web sites do you recommend?
- What will determine whether I should plan for a follow-up visit?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions 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 allow more time later to cover other points you want to address. Your doctor may ask:
- When did you begin experiencing symptoms?
- Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
- Do you experience vision problems in bright light?
- How severe are your symptoms?
- Do your vision problems make it difficult for you to drive?
- Do your vision problems make it difficult to read?
- Do your vision problems make it difficult to do your job?
- Have you ever had eye surgery?
- Have you ever had an eye injury?
- Have you ever been diagnosed with an eye problem, such as iritis?
- Have you ever received radiation therapy to your head or neck?
- What medications are you currently taking?
- Cataract: What you should know. National Eye Institute. http://www.nei.nih.gov/health/cataract/webcataract.pdf. Accessed April 12, 2010.
- Care of the adult patient with cataract. St. Louis, Mo.: American Optometric Association. http://www.aoa.org/documents/CPG-8.pdf. Accessed April 12, 2010.
- Wevill M. Epidemiology, pathophysiology, causes, morphology, and visual effects of cataract. In: Yanoff M, et al. Ophthalmology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby; 2008. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/194686199-3/0/1869/0.html. Accessed April 12, 2010.
- Cataract in the adult eye. American Academy of Ophthalmology. http://one.aao.org/asset.axd?id=821cecfb-85c5-400d-a65f-7a9a727bc163. Accessed April 12, 2010.
- Acquired cataract. In: Ehler JP, et al. The Wills Eye Manual: Office and Emergency Room Diagnosis and Treatment of Eye Disease. 5th ed. Baltimore, Md.: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2008. http://ovidsp.ovid.com/ovidweb.cgi?T=JS&NEWS=N&PAGE=booktext&D=books&AN=01337416/5th_Edition/3&XPATH=/OVIDBOOK%5b1%5d/METADATA%5b1%5d/TBY%5b1%5d/EDITORS%5b1%5d. Accessed April 14, 2010.
- Guercio JR, et al. Congenital malformations of the eye and orbit. Otolaryngologic Clinics of North American. 2007;40:113.
- Abel R. Cataract. In: Rakel D. Integrative Medicine. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2007. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/194686199-3/0/1494/0.html. Accessed April 12, 2010.
- Robertson DM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 24, 2010.