General Ophthalmology FAQs

How often should you get an eye exam?

The frequency of recommended eye exams varies based on age, family history of eye problems and factors such as other medical problems. A screening exam is recommended between 6 to 12 months of age and is usually done in the pediatrician’s office. If there are any abnormalities noted, the child is referred to an ophthalmologist for a full eye exam. Following this screening, it is generally recommended that children undergo an eye exam by an ophthalmologist or optometrist once prior to starting school. This exam can pick up very important findings such as whether the child has a significant refractive error such as near-sightedness (myopia) or whether the child is at risk of developing a lazy eye which is known as amblyopia. If the pre-school exam is normal, it is generally recommended that the child receive screenings every 1 to 2 years through their school or primary care physician and be referred for a full eye exam if any abnormalities are found. If there is a family history of refractive error, though, it is recommended that the child be seen every two to three years to make sure that they don’t need glasses.

Individuals that develop diabetes should have a baseline eye exam within the first 5 years of being diagnosed with the disease and then every year thereafter or more frequently if there are any signs of diabetic retinopathy on the exam.

Individuals without any known risk factors for eye disease should have a baseline routine eye exam at around age 40 and the every 2 to 4 years between the ages of 40 and 54. Between the ages of 55 and 64, eye exams for individuals without risk factors should occur every 1 to 3 years. After the age of 65, individuals without risk factors should have an exam every 1 to 2 years.

In patients that have risk factors for eye disease such as a family history of glaucoma or the finding of cataracts on exam should have more frequent exams than patients without risk factors with the frequency depending on several factors determined by their exam. The ophthalmologist will recommend the frequency of visits based on the exam findings.


What should I expect at an eye exam?

Individuals undergoing a routine eye exam can expect to have their initial work up to be done by an ophthalmic technician. The technician typically will check the patient’s vision which may include a refraction which is a test to determine if prescription glasses are necessary. Following this, the technician will check the pupils, eye movements, peripheral or side vision and the eye pressure. At this point the technician will dilate the pupils which generally takes about 15 minutes to take effect. Following pupil dilation, the ophthalmologist will examine the patient typically with a slit lamp which is a special instrument that provides a magnified three-dimensional view of the front part of the eye which is called the anterior segment. The slit lamp will allow diagnosis of such problems as cataracts. The back part of the eye, known as the posterior segment, is then examined using two different types of lenses. One, called direct retinoscopy, provides a highly magnified view of the retina and optic nerve so that diseases such as glaucoma or macular degeneration can be detected. The other, known as indirect retinoscopy, provides a much wider-angle view of the retina in order to be able to see the very outer parts of the retina. This examination is necessary in order to see diseases such as a retinal detachment or tumors of the pigmented layer of the eye called the choroid.

How much do you charge for a new patient exam private pay

For a new patient exam, your cost would be approximately $200.00.

Does Dr Burns do eyelid surgery?

Yes. Dr Burns does minor eyelid procedures such as removal of styes or chalazions and, also, for removal of lesions on the eyelid. For more extensive eyelid procedures, Dr Burns refers patients to an oculoplastic surgeon.

What kind of training do technicians have?

Most Certified Ophthalmic Assistants (COAs) and Certified Ophthalmic Technicians (COTs) are trained on the job with an ophthalmologist. You must work with an ophthalmologist a required number of hours and then pass a written exam with an accredited company to become certified. We’re proud to say that all of our technicians are certified.

Can I hurt my eyes by reading in dim light or sitting too close to the television?

It will not hurt your eyes, but it is usually easier to read with a brighter light.

Why am I noticing vision changes and glare at night?

The most common complaints of cataract changes are decreased vision and glare at night from oncoming headlights. If you are older than 60 and notice these changes, it is likely that you are experiencing cataract changes and are in need of a dilated eye exam. Contact our office and we will be able to schedule your exam.

How long should I expect to be in your office for a full eye exam?

For a full, dilated exam we recommend that you plan for 1.5 hours.

Can you use a machine rather than dilation drops for my exam?

Dilation is the best way to fully check the health of your eyes and your vision. There are machines that are used in lieu of dilating drops, but they do not provide a direct view of the retina and optic nerve.

How often can I use artificial tears?

We recommend 2-4 times daily, but you can use them more if needed.

Is pink eye contagious?

Yes, pink eye is contagious. It is typically spread through hand to eye contact.

Why do I have to have my eyes dilated?

Having your eyes dilated is an important part of the eye exam so that an ophthalmologist can see the back of your eyes to check your optic nerves and retina.

How long do the dilating drops last?

The dilating drops usually lasts about four to six hours. Sometimes stronger dilating drops are used for younger patients and can last for up to twelve hours.

What is a floater?

It’s an age-related change in the eye which occurs when the gel inside of the eye (vitreous) can pull away from the back of the eye and cause floaters and sometimes flashes or flickers of light. Floaters can also be an indication of a retinal detachment, which is why we recommend coming in for a dilated exam if you experience a new onset of floaters or flashes of light.

Why does my eye twitch?

Generally, this is a spasm of the muscles in the eyelid and is not a concern. It can be caused by too much caffeine, stress or not enough sleep.

Why is my eye red (“bleeding”)?

If you or a family member noticed that you have a red eye (no pain or other symptoms) it is usually caused by a subconjunctival hemorrhage and it is nothing to be concerned about. This is common and can be caused by straining or picking up heavy objects, intense coughing or sneezing or it can happen spontaneously (especially if you are on blood thinners or aspirin). Don’t worry! This will go away soon and doesn’t cause any long term vision problems. You can use cool compresses (treat it like a bruise). But, if you have any pain or vision changes, please let our office know.

Why do my eyes water?

The most common cause of watering is dry eyes. Burning, blurred vision and a foreign body sensation (feeling like something is in your eye) are also symptoms of dry eyes. We recommend that you use over the counter artificial tears such as Systane, TheraTears or Refresh.

Why are my eyes itching?

One of the most common symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis is ocular itching. Most people don’t realize that in addition to typical allergy symptoms the eyes can also be involved. Itching, watering and red eyes are very common with allergies. Talk to Dr. Burns if you are having symptoms; drops are available to help treat the problem.

I’m new to the area and was treated for glaucoma by another doctor…do I need to bring my records?

Having your records with you is not required but it is very helpful and appreciated. If you don’t have your records, you can complete a HIPAA release of information form at the time of your visit so we can obtain a copy from your previous physician.

Do you sell eyeglasses?

Yes. We have an optical shop in our office – staffed with experienced, certified opticians. The optical shop is called “Middletown EyeCare” and the hours of operation are: Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri 9am-5pm and Wednesday 10am-7pm.

Do you sell contacts?

Yes. We can order contacts for you which will be shipped directly to your home. We also provide contact lens fittings for new contact lens wearers.

Can I order my contacts via your website?

Existing patients can order contacts by sending us a message using the online patient portal.

Can I pay my bill online?

Not at this time. We accept payments via mail or by phone or just stop by the office. We accept cash, checks and all major credit cards.

Do I need a referral to see Dr Burns?

Please call your insurance company if you are unsure if a referral is required.

Do I need to bring my glasses and/or contacts to my appointment?

Yes. Please bring your current glasses and if you wear contacts please bring that prescription with you. If you do not know your contact lens prescription but obtained them elsewhere, please see if you can obtain a copy of the prescription from the previous doctor’s office.

Can I schedule an appointment online?

Not at this time. You can email our office to request an appointment. Existing patients can send us an appointment request message through the patient portal.

I work until 5pm every day…do you have late appointment times?

Yes, Wednesdays are our late nights and our last appointment is at 6:15pm.

I have vision insurance. Will you file that for me?

Our office does not file vision insurance but it does file medical insurance for your exam. Most patients have a medical diagnosis (such as cataracts, dry eyes, blepharitis, etc.) which is typically covered by medical insurance.

Do you take my insurance?

We can file to most major medical insurance plans but, to be certain, we ask that you call the customer support number printed on the back of your insurance card and they can tell you if Dr Burns is listed as a provider.

Do you accept United Health Care?

Our office accepts medical insurance plans only. United would fall under medical insurance so yes we do accept United Health Care.


Do you except credit card payments over the phone?

Yes we do.

Do you sell Ocusoft Eyelid scrubs in the office only or can I buy them at the store?

Yes, the Ocusoft Original scrubs are $13.00 and the Ocusoft Plus scrubs are $21.00. They are also available over the counter at most pharmacies.


Will I get a postcard in the mail to remind me of my yearly appointment?

Yes, you will receive a card 3 months before you are due for an appointment.


Are you open on the weekend?

No, we are not open on weekends, but Dr. Burns is available by phone for emergency calls. Our office hours are Monday, Tuesday and Friday 8:00AM to 5:00PM, Wednesday 10:00 AM to 7:00PM and Thursday 8:00AM to 1:00PM


Call Dr. Burns today is you have any other questions about eye problems or services provided at Middletown Eye Care at (502) 245-0305.

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