What to Expect During Your First Visit


Have you ever put off going to the doctor because you were afraid of what would happen?  I think we’ve all done that, to be honest. That’s why I thought it would be helpful to tell you what you can expect when you visit my office. The first thing you’ll be asked to do is fill out some demographic forms. We try to send these to our patients in advance, or you can download them from our web site.

After the paperwork is taken care of, you’ll be ushered into an exam room, where you’ll meet with me first. I always introduce myself by my first name—which is Jack, even though my given name is Joseph—and you and I will chat and visit for a while.

Your Medical History

This is when we’ll take a comprehensive review of your medical history. For example, if you’re diabetic, I’ll want to know if you’ve ever had tingling or burning in your feet. This is a sign of neuropathy, and can indicate that you may be at risk for diabetic retinopathy, or damage to the small blood vessels in the retina. I’ll want to know how well your blood sugar is controlled. I’d like to know what your blood pressure is, and whether you’ve had any cardiac problems.

I’ll also want to know if you have Glaucoma, Cataracts, or a history of retinal disease. All of these things will help me better understand your vision and the challenges that you might be facing.

Dilating Your Pupils is Important

We’ll then perform a physical exam. In order to best see the retina, which is in the back of your eye, I’ll need to dilate your eyes. This involves putting drops in your eyes and waiting 10 or 15 minutes until your pupils—the holes in the center of  your irises that let light in—are large. It is a completely painless procedure, though your eyes may be sensitive to light for several hours until the pupils shrink back to normal size.

After I’ve had a chance to examine your retina, I can decide what ancillary tests may be necessary.

Diagnostic Testing May Be Needed

We have a wide range of state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment in our office, including high-resolution spectral domain optical coherence tomography (SDOCT), digital photography, fluorescein angiography, and contact ultrasonography.

With the SDOCT, I can get a cross-sectional view of the macula. With the angiogram, I can show patients the blood flow through the eye. Taking an ultrasound of the eye enables me to image the vitreous and retina through opaque media such as a dense cataract or hemorrhage. The beauty of having these capabilities here in the office is that I can show patients exactly what’s happening in their eyes at the time of their visit.

Then We’ll Talk About Your Eyes

We will then sit down and talk about what it all means. I tell my patients what typically happens in people with their condition, as well as the options for treatment.

With the exception of retinal tears and detachments—which we would need to repair right away—most retinal diseases don’t require immediate treatment, so you can take some time to think about where to go from there.

My mantra is:  “The doctor guides. The patient decides.”

I want you to make an informed decision on treatment, based on the best available information. And I can help you get there.

The only bad decision would be not to see a doctor at all.

***This post is for information purposes only. This posting does not offer medical advice, so nothing in it should be construed as medical advice. The information on this blog/post is only offered for informational purposes. You shouldn’t act or rely on anything in this blog or posting or use it as a substitute for medical advice from a licensed professional. The content of this posting may quickly become outdated, especially due to the nature of the topics covered, which are constantly evolving. The materials and information on this posting/blog are not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or timely. Nothing in this posting/blog and nothing you or I do creates a doctor-patient relationship between you and the blog; between you and me; or between you and Joseph J. Timmes, Jr., M.D., F.A.C.S. or NovaRetina.com. Even if you try to contact me through the blog or post a comment on the blog you are still not creating a doctor-patient relationship. Although, I am a doctor, I’m not YOUR doctor until and unless there is a written agreement specifically providing for a doctor-patient relationship.***
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Joseph J. Timmes, Jr., M.D. • 3301 Woodburn Road Suite 204 • Annandale, VA • 22003
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