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FAQ

Welcome to our Frequently Asked Questions about eye care, eye procedures, insurance and the office in general. If your question isn”t answered here, please call.

General Questions

Q:Where are you located?

We have convenient locations in Denton (Corinth), Flower Mound, Frisco, Lewisville and West Plano.

Q:Can I use my medical insurance for an eye exam?

If you have a medical problem, we can file your exam with your medical insurance. Be sure to mention your medical problem during your visit.

Q:What insurances do you accept?

We also accept some other insurances. Please call.

  • AARP
  • Aetna
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield
  • Cigna
  • First Health
  • Golden Rule
  • GreatWest
  • HealthSpring
  • HMO Blue
  • Humana
  • Medicare
  • Medicare Advantage Plans
  • PHCS
  • UMR
  • United Healthcare
Q:What about vision insurance?

As ophthalmologists, we are medical doctors and therefore file with your medical insurance to cover your eye examination for specific problems or surgeries. Only optometrists are allowed to file vision insurance, therefore we cannot file these insurances. Likewise, our optical shops are not able to file vision insurance, either.

Q:What eye procedures do you provide?

We offer state-of-the-art cataract and LASIK surgery as well as surgery for glaucoma and certain eyelid conditions. We also provide laser surgery for secondary cataract, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.

Q:Where do you operate?

For cataract and other surgeries, we use the convenient and reliable outpatient Eye Surgery Center of North Dallas in Carrollton, a state-of-the-art outpatient surgery center that only accommodates eye surgery. Many other laser and minor procedures are done in our office.

Q:Do you perform bladeless, all-laser LASIK?

We perform bladeless LASIK using the Intralase femtosecond laser. We also use the Visx excimer laser platform to provide Wavefront computer-generated lasering for the sharpest vision possible.

Questions about Cataracts

Q:What is a cataract?

A cataract is a clouding of the normally clear lens inside of the eye. It””s like having a frosted or dirty window. There are many misconceptions about a cataract. It is:

  • Not a film over the eye;
  • Not caused by overusing the eyes;
  • Not a cause of irreversible blindness.

Common symptoms of cataract include:

  • A painless blurring of vision;
  • Glare, or light sensitivity;
  • Frequent eyeglass prescription changes;
  • Double vision in one eye;
  • Needing brighter light to read;
  • Poor night vision;
  • Fading or yellowing of colors.

The amound of blurriness within the lens can vary. If the cloudiness is not near the center of the lens where you see through, you may not notice any vision changes.

Q:What causes a cataract?

The most common type of cataract is related to aging of the eye. Other causes of cataract include: Family history of cataract at a young age; Medical problems, such as diabetes; Injury to the eye; Medications, such as steriods; Long-term, unprotected exposure to sunlight; Previous eye surgery; Cigarette smoking.

Q:How is a cataract detected?

During a thorough eye examination with dilation, your ophthalmologist can detect the presence and extent of a cataract, as well as any other conditions in your eye that may be causing blurred vision. There may be other reasons in addition to the cataract, including problems with the retina or optic nerve. If these are indeed present, removal of the cataract may not result in any significant improvement in your vision. Your ophthalmologist can make this determination and tell you how much visual improvement to expect.

Q:How fast does a cataract develop?

How quickly a cataract develops varies among individuals. Most cataracts gradually worsen over a period of years. Other cataracts, such as those with diabetes and in young people, may rapidly worsen over months and even sometimes weeks.

Q:How is a cataract treated?

Surgery is the only way to remove a cataract from your eye. If symptoms are mild, a change in glasses may be able to allow you to function comfortably. There are no medications, dietary supplements or exercises that have been shown to prevent cataract formation. Protection from ultraviolet light (sunlight) may help prevent or slow progression of a cataract. Always wear sunglasses that have ultraviolet (UV) protection when out in the sun.

Q:When should cataract surgery be done?

Cataract surgery should be considered when the blurring of your vision is interfering with daily activities such as driving a car or reading. It is not true that a cataract needs to be “ripe” before it can be removed. Cataract surgery is an elective procedure, and so a decision between yourself and your ophthalmologist is necessary to decide when is the best time for you.

Q:Do you use premium lenses for cataract patients?

We do implant the new revolutionary multifocal lenses, toric implants for correction of astigmatism implants as well as toric intraocular implants for astigmatism. See us for an evaluation to learn how to get the best vision possible without glasses after cataract surgery.

Q:What can I expect from cataract surgery?

Over 1.4 million people have cataract surgery each year in the United States, 95% of them without complications. Here at North Dallas Eye Associates we use only the most up-to-date surgical techniques. Almost all cases are done with a minimum of intravenous anesthesia for safety, and eyedrops to numb your eye. This is very effective, and all that is necessary to make surgery essentially painless. The cloudy cataract lens is removed with a machine that uses ultrasound energy to break it up into pieces which are then vacuumed out. Although it is a common misconception, lasers are not used to remove cataracts. A permanent lens implant is then placed into the eye, so that you can see without thick “coke-bottle” glasses. After surgery, approximately 20% of people have a clouding of the natural capsule membrane that supports the lens implant. Laser surgery can be used to open this cloudy capsule, restoring clear vision. After cataract surgery, you will use drops for a few weeks, but otherwise you can soon return to your normal activities. Cataract surgery is a highly successful procedure, with improved vision in 95% of patients. It is surgery, and therefore it is possible for complications to occur, some severe enough to limit vision. It is important to discuss all options with your ophthalmologist before deciding if cataract surgery is appropriate for you.

Questions about Floaters

Q:What causes them?

Small specks or clouds that you see moving about in your field of vision are called floaters. You often see them when looking at a plain background, like a blank wall. Floaters are actually tiny clumps of gel or cells in the vitreous, the clear jelly-like fluid that fills the back of the eye. While often these objects look like they are in front of your eye, they are actually floating inside. What you see are the shadows that they cast onto the retina, the nerve layer at the back of your eye that senses light. Floaters can have different shapes: dots, cobwebs, lines, circles, to name a few.

Q:Can floaters ever be serious?

When people reach middle age, the vitreous gel will shrink. Oftentimes this gel will pull away from the back wall of the eye, which is called a posterior vitreous detachment. It is a common cause of new floaters. Posterior vitreous detachment is more common in people who: Are nearsighted; Have undergone cataract surgery; Have had YAG laser surgery after their cataract surgery; Have had inflammation inside of their eye; Have had head trauma (such as a car accident). Demonstration of a posterior vitreous detachment Having a posterior vitreous detachment in and of itself is not particularly dangerous, but sometimes as the vitreous is pulling away from the back of the eye, it can tear the retina. A torn retina is a serious problem, since many of these retinal tears will go on to become retinal detachments. A large horseshoe tear of the retina You should call your ophthalmologist if you see the following: New floaters, especially if you are over the age of 45; You see sudden flashes of light; The loss of side vision, like someone is drawing a “curtain” across your vision. If you notice loss of your side vision, you should contact your ophthalmologist immediately!

Q:What can be done about floaters?

If you see new floaters, your ophthalmologist should be contacted to make sure that you don”t have any retinal tears or detachments. Floaters themselves can be quite annoying, especially when reading. You can try moving your eyes up and down to move the floaters out of the way. While some floaters may remain in your vision, many will fade over time and become less bothersome. You should still have an eye examination if you notice new floaters, even if you have had some floaters for years.

Questions about Glaucoma

Q:What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the United States, especially in the elderly population. Loss of sight can be preventable, however, if treatment is received early enough. Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve. The optic nerve is the cable that takes the signals from the eye to the brain. The retina is the nerve layer in the back of the eye which is like the film in a camera. It “sees” the picture and converts it to electrical signals that are carried in “wires” called axons. These axon “wires” are then arranged in the optic nerve cable going to the brain. Glaucoma is damage to these axon wires, causing blind spots to develop. This damage is usually slow and painless and people often don”t realize how much these blind areas have progressed until much damage has occurred. Early detection and treatment are the keys to preventing optic nerve damage and blindness from glaucoma.

Q:What causes glaucoma?

Current research in glaucoma suggests that the cause of this optic nerve damage is because of poor blood flow to the optic nerve and back of the eye. It is known that high eye pressure can cause progression of glaucoma.

Q:What is eye pressure?

Your eye makes fluid to keep it inflated–so you have a grape instead of a raisin for an eye. This fluid is constantly being made inside your eye and constantly being drained, also inside of your eye by little drains at the sides of the iris called the trabecular meshwork. If the drains aren”t working well, or get clogged, the pressure inside of your eye can build up, which will then lead to damage to the optic nerve.

Q:What are the different types of glaucoma?

Chronic open-angle glaucoma is the most common form in the United States. It occurs generally as a result of aging. The trabecular meshwork drain becomes less efficient with time and the eye pressure gradually increases, eventually damaging the optic nerve. Over 90% of glaucoma in the U.S. is of this type. It is painless and very gradual in progression, often with people unaware of it. Angle-closure glaucoma is caused by a sudden blockage of the trabecular meshwork drains by the iris. People who have this have irises which are very close to the drains and can block them suddenly, especially when the pupil is dilated–in the dark or even by the eye doctor! When the drains are suddenly blocked it is called an acute angle-closure, the eye pressure will climb very high and the person will notice the following: Blurred vision; Severe eye pain; Headache; Rainbow haloes around lights; Nausea and vomiting. If you have any of these symptoms, call and opthalmologist immediately. Blindness or damage to the optic nerve can occur very quickly at a very high eye pressure. This condition is more common in people of Asian descent and rare in people of African descent.

Q:Who is at risk?

The most important risk factors are: Age. It is more common the older you get; African ancestry; A family history of glaucoma; Past injury to the eye. Your ophthalmologist will weigh all of these factors when deciding to start treatment or to just watch your eyes closely as a glaucoma suspect. This means that your risk for glaucoma is higher than normal, and that you need to be watched more carefully for optic nerve damage.

Q:How Is glaucoma Treated?

As a rule, any damage already done by glaucoma cannot be reversed. Treatment is directed at stopping any further damage. Medicines. Many times eye pressure and glaucoma can be controlled with eye drops. These drops either slow the production of fluid within your eye or improve the drainage of the fluid. Laser surgery. Laser surgery can be helpful in one of two ways. In open-angle glaucoma, the laser can be used to modify the drain (trabeculoplasty) and make it work better. In angle-closure glaucoma, the laser is used to create a hole in the iris and allow fluid to reach the drains (iridoto).

Q:What is Operative surgery?

When operative surgery is needed to control glaucoma, the ophthalmologist creates a drainage channel in the side of the eye for fluid to flow from the inside to the outside of the eye.

Q:How often should I have my eyes checked for glaucoma?

The American Academy of Ophthalmology suggests the following schedule:
Age 20-39: Individuals of African descent or with a family history of glaucoma should have a medical eye examination every 3 to 5 years. Others can be seen at least once during this period; 40-64: Every 2 to 4 years; Age 65 or older: Every 1 to 2 years.

Questions about Retinal Detachment

Q:What is the retina?

The retina is a nerve layer at the back of the eye that senses light and sends images to the brain. If you think of the eye as a camera, then the retina is like the film that lines the back of the camera.

Q:What is a retinal detachment?

A retinal detachment occurs when the retina is pulled from its normal position. The retina does not work when it is detached. Vision is blurred in that area that is detached, like if the film were loose inside the camera. A retinal detachment is quite serious, and will almost always lead to blindness if not treated.

Q:What causes a retinal detachment?

The most common cause is after separation of the vitreous layer. The vitreous is a clear gel that fills the inside of the back of the eye. As we all get older, the vitreous shrinks and may pull away from its attachment to the retina. This usually happens without a problem, but sometimes the vitreous pulls hard enough to tear the retina in one or more places.
There are other conditions that can increase the chance of a retinal detachment:

  • Nearsightedness
  • Previous cataract surgery
  • Glaucoma
  • Severe injury
  • Previous retinal detachment in the other eye
  • A family history of retinal detachment
  • Weak areas in your retina that can be seen by your ophthalmologist
Q:What are the warning symptoms of a retinal detachment?

Early symptoms that may indicate the presence of a retinal detachment:

  • Flashing lights
  • New floaters
  • A gray curtain moving across your field of vision

These symptoms do not always mean a retinal detachment is present; however, you should see your ophthalmologist as soon as possible. A retinal detachment can be determined during an eye examination where the pupils are dilated (enlarged).

Questions about Macular Degeneration

Q:What is macular degeneration?

Macular degeneration is damage or breakdown of the macula. The macula is a small area (about the size of this letter “O”) at the back of the eye the allows us to see fine details clearly. When the macula doesn”t function well, we experience blurriness or darkness in the center of our vision. Macular degeneration affects both distance and close vision and can make reading difficult or impossible.

Although macular degeneration affects the central vision, it does not affect the side, or peripheral, vision. For example, you could see the outline of the clock but not be able to tell the time. Macular degeneration does not result in total blindness, even with severe damage people have useful peripheral vision and are able to take care of themselves.

Q:What causes macular degeneration?

Many people develop macular degeneration as part of the aging process. The two most common types of this “age-related” macular degeneration are “dry” (atrophic) and “wet” (exudative).
“Dry” (atrophic) macular degeneration is the most common. It is caused by aging and thinning of the tissues of the macula. Vision loss is usually gradual.
“Wet” (exudative) macular degeneration accounts for about 10% of all cases. It results from abnormal blood vessels that grow up through thinned and weakened macular tissue. These vessels leak fluid and blood and blur central vision. Vision loss may be rapid and severe.

Q:What are the Symptoms of Macular Degeneration?

Macular degeneration can cause different symptoms in different people. The condition may be hardly noticeable in its early stages. Sometimes only one eye loses vision while the other eye continues to see well for many years.
Some common ways that vision loss is detected are:

  • Words on a page look blurry
  • A dark or empty area appears in the center of vision
  • Straight lines look distorted
Q:How is Macular Degeneration Diagnosed?

Many people do not realize that they have a problem until blurred vision becomes obvious. Your ophthalmologist can detect early stages of macular degeneration during a medical eye examination. Sometimes special photographs, called angiograms, are done to find abnormal blood vessels under the retina.

Q:How is macular degeneration treated?

Despite much effort into medical research, there is still no cure for “dry” macular degeneration. Many doctors believe that nutritional supplements with zinc, beta-carotenes or lutein may slow macular degeneration, although this hasn”t been absolutely proven.
In its early stages, “wet” macular degeneration can be treated with laser surgery, using a focused beam of light to seal the leaking blood vessels that damage the macula. Traditional laser surgery will leave a permanent “blind spot” in the area treated, however a new technique is now available that in some cases can preserve much more of the vision while still sealing the blood vessels.
Despite advanced medical treatment, many people will still suffer some visual loss with macular degeneration. Your eye doctor can prescribe optical devices or refer you to a low-vision specialist, like us at the North Dallas Eye Associates. A wide range of devices and aids are available that use the vision that is present to accomplish many daily tasks that wouldn”t be possible without them.