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Tips on Transferring Your Eye Care to a New Doctor

You just learned you have to switch insurance plans, you're moving to a new city, or your ophthalmologist is retiring.

If you have glaucoma, you're wondering: What will my new ophthalmologist need to hit the ground running and manage my disease? In my experience, to make a smooth transition to optimal care, the most important thing you can do is create a personal Glaucoma Data Portfolio. Here's how:

Your Glaucoma Data Portfolio

1. What is your specific diagnosis?

  • Are you a glaucoma "suspect" your ophthalmologist is following because of your family history or suspicion of optic nerve damage? Do you have ocular hypertension?
  • If you have glaucoma, what type is it? There are many - is it primary open-angle glaucoma (the most common form in the US), angle-closure, normal-tension or another form?

2. When were you diagnosed and how? Was your diagnosis based on elevated eye pressure, optic nerve damage or visual field tests?

3. Who else in your family has the disease and to what degree? Has anyone lost vision or needed surgery?

4. What medicines and treatments are you currently using or have you tried? What has failed and why? Were you allergic or intolerant? What surgeries have you had? Did they work? Laser surgeries leave little or no clues for ophthalmologists. Get the procedure dates for each eye and who did them. Also of importance: Bring an up-to-date list of all your medications (not just glaucoma medicines) to every doctor visit.

5. Do you have copies of all your records? Surprisingly, years of eye pressure data might not be the most useful part of your history. Pressure at time of diagnosis and highest pressure recorded are indeed important, but there's other information your new ophthalmologist will find more useful. First, get high quality printouts of all visual field test results. Then gather all photos and scans of your optic nerve (OCT is the most common technique used to scan the optic nerve). Scans are normally done in color, but copies are usually made in black and white. Black and white copies are pretty much useless. Ask for high quality color copies that you can deliver by hand to your new ophthalmologist.

For glaucoma patients, a smooth transition in eye care is especially important. A complete Glaucoma Data Portfolio will give your new ophthalmologist a head start in providing you the best care.

To find a new ophthalmologist, visit these websites:

For a fellowship-trained glaucoma specialist, visit www.americanglaucomasociety.net and click on "Find an AGS Doctor."

For a general ophthalmologist, visit www.aao.org and click on "Find an Ophthalmologist."

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Article by James D. Brandt, MD. Dr. Brandt is a Professor of Ophthalmology and Vision Science and Director of the Glaucoma Service at the University of California, Davis

Last reviewed on September 10, 2018

This article appeared in the May 2018 issue of Gleams.

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