It’s that time of year again..
You’ve started noticing changes in your vision. At first they were pretty minimal, but now, it’s getting pretty bad. You know you need to go to the eye doctor, but where do you go?
Maybe you’ve moved.
Maybe your insurance changed.
Maybe you weren’t a fan of that last optometrist.
Or maybe you’ve never seen an eye doctor before.
The stories are all different, but the question is the same: how do you decide which optometrist to see (pun intended)?
I was reminded of this conundrum a couple of days ago when, out of curiosity, I decided to see how many eye doctors there were near my hometown (which doesn’t have a stoplight to put things into perspective).
I was shocked. I knew of, probably 4 off the top of my head, but between four towns that are within a 20 minute radius of my house, there were somewhere around 12 different practices, many with multiple doctors each!
Retrospectively, what shocked me the most wasn’t the number of doctors – it was the number that I had never heard of. How could I live in the area so long and have no idea that they existed?!
Now, I know that, in the grand scheme of things, 12 practices is a drop in the bucket compared to say… Houston… but nevertheless, anytime that there are multiple options, the question remains: which one do I go to? So, without further adieu – Hannah’s Top Tips to Pick Your Optometrist
It may be scary to some, but I swear Google knows all – and it definitely will have a list of all the eye doctors in your area. Whether you’re new to town, have never seen an optometrist, or need a new doc, Google will be able to show you locations, websites, and, which will be my next point, reviews.
This is essentially my number one advice with most everything in life – check the reviews! Regardless of how awesome a practice’s website looks, the reviews are generally the most telling. Sure, there will always be a few people who aren’t happy with some aspect of their care, but what does the overwhelming majority say?
Additionally, when looking at reviews, check the dates. Were all the positive reviews several years ago, with more recent information showing one or two stars? Or vice versa, were all the poor reviews ancient history?
Finally, check multiple sites for reviews. Some sites are designed to hide negative reviews, rather than giving an equal opportunity to see both positive and negative impressions. If you suspect that this may be the case, keep looking!
For people with vision insurance, this is often one of the biggest determining factors of which doc to see, and understandably so! Remember, not all optometrists take all insurance plans, so it’s important to check before scheduling an appointment and getting to the office, only to discover that you’ll be paying out of pocket. Most often, your insurance company will have a list of in-network providers to refer to during this process!
Talk to People!
If you’re introverted, this may be an uncomfortable one, but talk to the people you know! If they’ve been around town for a while, they’ll probably know, or at least have heard of several of the providers, and can give you suggestions based on their experiences.
Go to the Office
In the age of COVID, this may be a little bit more difficult, but there is definitely something about physically going to the location that can play a huge role in your final decision. Is it in a sketchy area of town, or someplace harder to access? What’s your impression of the office aesthetics? If you’re able to go in, how does the staff treat you? Are they friendly and welcoming? Or do you feel more like an unwelcome guest?
Assess Offered Services
This is especially important if you have a specific need or concern. Are you bringing an infant in for their first eye exam? Make sure the doc is comfortable seeing little ones! Do you have a special needs child? Find a optometrist that may better understand their needs. Are you curious about vision therapy? Don’t go to a glaucoma specialist! (And vice versa). Just like an endocrinologist wouldn’t be comfortable performing knee surgery, not all optometrists share the same specialties, so find the eye doctor who best suits your needs.
Don’t Be Afraid to Change
It’s never to late to change your optometrist. Do I really suggest jumping between practices every year? By no means – the more regularly an eye doctor sees you, the more familiar they become with you, allowing them to further personalize care while better monitoring for slight changes in your eyes that a doctor seeing your eyes for the first time may miss. But, if you have consistent bad experiences, or something just doesn’t feel right? Don’t be afraid to ask for your records and find someone else.
Like me. 🙂
*This is a joke! Though I would be happy to see any of you, due to my current status of being between positions, I don’t even have a physical office to see you at.. And I do not recommend driving to see me for a makeshift exam from my garage in the unrelenting heat and humidity that is otherwise known as Houston.
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