Frequently Asked Questions
What can I expect on my first visit?
A typical initial examination will include a comprehensive eye exam to check the need for glasses and to screen for any diseases of the eye. The exam usually includes dilation of the eyes and any needed testing. Expect the exam to last a little more than an hour.
What insurance do you accept?
We accept all Medicare and most major private insurance plans. We also accept Medicaid on a referral basis.
In which offices can I be seen?
We welcome and are happy to schedule patients in our Gainesville, Cornelia, and Braselton offices. Our remaining locations throughout Northeast Georgia and Western North Carolina are consultation offices, primarily for patients referred with medical and surgical issues.
Where do you perform eye surgeries?
Laser vision correction surgery is performed in our office on specific dates. Cataract surgeries are performed in our accredited surgery center at the Gainesville office location, as well as multiple hospitals throughout Northeast Georgia and Western North Carolina. Laser cataract surgery is exclusively performed at the Gainesville Surgery Center.
What should I expect on the day of my cataract surgery?
Upon arrival at the surgery center, you will meet our pre-operative team who will provide you relaxing medication via an IV. Dilating eyedrops will be given to allow for a better view of the cataract. Once inside the operating room, the anesthesiologist will give a stronger sedative allowing you to sleep during the 10-15 minute procedure. Most patients awake in the recovery room with minimal to no discomfort and are ready to return home within 30-60 minutes following the surgery. Expect the whole process to take approximately 2.5 hours.
Do you have any sub-specialist ophthalmologists available?
Yes. Chris Bergstrom, M.D. is a board-certified ophthalmologist specializing in medical and surgical retina. Dr. Bergstrom sees patients weekly in our Gainesville location and performs surgeries at Emory University in Atlanta.
Joseph Walrath, M.D. is a board-certified ophthalmologist specializing in oculoplastics and reconstructive surgery of the eyelids and surrounding tissue. Dr. Walrath sees patients every other week in our Gainesville location and performs surgery at the Gainesville Surgery Center.
I have good eyesight, but I would like to have glasses as a fashion accessory. Will an optician give me glasses that don’t change my vision?
We would recommend having your eyes checked again. If your vision isn’t a problem, then an optician will have no objection to you getting plain or tinted lenses in a frame of your choice, or contact lenses that can enhance or change the color of your eyes.
If there is a history of glaucoma in my family, am I likely to inherit it?
If glaucoma runs in your family, you may be more at risk of developing it. Glaucoma can be treated effectively if it is diagnosed in time, so be sure to have regular eye exams.
What are cataracts?
A cataract is a cloudiness of the natural lens of the eye that dims or blurs vision, often causing a glare or halo around lights at night, and creating sight difficulty in dim light situations. A clouded lens cannot be made clear again. If your sight becomes too poor to carry on normal activities, the only solution is to surgically remove the clouded lens and replace it with an artificial lens. Other methods such as eye exercises and eye drops simply do not work. Should you decide not to have the cataract removed, your vision loss from the cataract will continue to worsen.
How old does a child have to be before he or she can have an eye examination?
Any age really. A child's eyes have finished developing by the time they are about eight years old. Many health authorities screen children at around three years of age, but if you are concerned, or if there are any members of your family with eye problems, then it's best to have your child's eye tested.
Are paper tissues all right to use when cleaning my glasses?
If you have plastic lenses in your glasses, then dry tissues will scratch them. It is generally better to dampen the tissue, or even use soapy water and a soft cloth. Glasses with anti-glare coatings should be cleaned with a special cloth and spray.
How long should a sight test take?
It depends on who the patient is. A young, healthy person with no apparent problems will take about 20 minutes. Someone older, perhaps with high blood pressure, diabetes, glaucoma or other ailments can take much longer. The optometrist will determine what clinical tests are needed to provide the correct information for new glasses or contact lenses. If necessary, they may refer the patient for a medical opinion.
Is an optometrist the same as an optician?
An optician can be ophthalmic, dispensing or manufacturing; it is the optometrist who is qualified to test your eyes. Some dispensing opticians have extra qualifications that enable them to fit contact lenses and carry out certain clinical tests.
I'm diabetic. Does that make a difference?
Yes. Diabetes can cause severe problems with your sight. It is very important that your eyes are checked every year, preferably with drops to dilate the pupil, so that the retina (back of the eye) can be examined thoroughly.
What should I bring to my eye exam?
You should provide your doctor with a list of prescription medications and any vitamins or dietary supplements you're currently taking or regularly took in the past. You should also bring your glasses or contacts and a copy of your most recent prescription. Your eyes may be sensitive to light a few hours after having your pupils dilated so you may want to bring sunglasses.