New Patient Information
We understand the nerves that may come with a first-time medical visit. North Carolina Retina Associates is here to make you feel at home by providing you with a guide on what to expect when you arrive and how you can better prepare for your appointment.
When to Arrive
If you are a new patient, please plan to arrive at least 15 minutes early to help ensure your records have the information we need.
When you arrive, you will be greeted by our medical receptionist who will kindly ask you to complete the patient registration form, medical history questionnaire, and HIPAA Privacy Act. To streamline your visit, you can print these forms and fax them to our office or bring them with you to your appointment. A notice of our privacy practices will be provided to you.
What to Bring
If you do not speak English, we suggest you travel with a companion who can act as a translator.
Please the following items with you to your appointment:
- medical records from your referring doctor,
- a list of your medications with their dosages,
- your photo identification,
- insurance cards so we may bill your insurance plan correctly,
- glasses or contact lenses so we can measure your vision accurately.
Length of the Examination
A retinal exam takes longer than most general eye exams. Your initial appointment may be up to 2 hours, as this is the amount of time necessary to complete the examination and diagnostic testing necessary to diagnose and treat your retinal condition on the same day for your convenience. If you require follow up, subsequent visits will be much faster.
Your medical evaluation will begin with an ophthalmic technician who will obtain a more detailed medical and ocular history. The technician will then measure your vision, eye pressure, and place drops in your eyes to dilate your pupils. Dilation is necessary for a thorough examination of the retina, which typically requires up to 30 minutes. Please bring your glasses and/or contact lenses with you so your vision can be measured accurately. Your ability to read will be temporarily decreased due to dilation. The dilating drops last several hours and you can expect to have blurry vision for the remainder of the day. We recommend you have someone else drive you home, if possible.
After your pupils are dilated, one of our doctors will meet with you to examine your eyes. Examining the retina requires very bright lights – the same kind of lights used by your general eye doctor. While this bright light can be uncomfortable, it won’t harm the eye. Depending on your medical condition, other specific tests may be performed. Your doctor will review all of your tests with our digital imaging systems and monitors in the exam room. If treatment of your eye problem is indicated, you and your doctor will decide the most appropriate course of action. Some types of treatment can be performed in our office and others require an operation in a surgery center. We will also send a complete report immediately to your referring doctor and primary medical doctor.
Many retinal problems are emergencies - eye trauma, severe eye infections, retinal detachments, retinal tears and other conditions that demand urgent attention. We strive to keep our schedule flexible enough to accommodate these patients. However, emergencies are unpredictable and sometimes take more time than we allotted. When that happens, it may mean a longer wait for scheduled patients. If an unusual number of emergencies delay your appointment, we greatly appreciate your understanding and we certainly understand the value of your time.