Frequently Asked Questions

Ophthalmology FAQ – What do I need to bring to the eye appointment?

Why do I need my pupils dilated when I see the eye doctor?

Dilating eye drops enlarge the black part at the centre of the eye (pupil) and allow the ophthalmologist to examine the internal structures of the eye. When your pupil is dilated, the ophthalmologist is able to check the lens of the eye, and the retina at the back of the eye. The eye doctor will look for things such as Cataracts, Macular degeneration, Glaucoma, Diabetes, retinal detachment, eye tumours and infectious diseases.

What are the effects of the dilating eye drops?

Dilating eye drops cause some blurring of vision, especially for reading and near tasks. This normally happens about 20 minutes after instillation, and can last anywhere from 1 hour up to 24 hours. The ophthalmologist and orthoptist will determine the strength and type of dilating eye drop which will best suit you or your child in order to minimise long lasting blurred vision.

We understand that eye dilation can be inconvenient, as it may prevent you from driving and working for a few hours after your appointment. It may prevent your child from actively participating in classroom skills for a few hours.

Do I need dilating eye drops at every visit?

This will depend largely on the reason for your visit to the ophthalmologist. Most people do not need dilating drops at every visit. The ophthalmologist may be able to tell you whether he or she expects to have to dilate your pupils at your next visit.

How long will my eye appointment take?

This is different for every patient, and varies from visit to visit. Your eye appointment will take longer if your pupils need dilating, or if you require further investigative testing such as a visual field test or mapping of the retina. Generally we recommend you allow 2 hours for your appointment.

Can I drive after my eye appointment?

We recommend you do not drive after your eye appointment, as your vision may be blurred because of the eye drops. It is best to arrange other means of transport. We are located conveniently near Martin Place train station, and several major bus routes.

What is the difference between an ophthalmologist, an orthoptist and an optometrist?

All are eye care professionals, but only an ophthalmologist is a medically trained specialist

An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who has undertaken additional specialist training in the diagnosis and management of disorders of the eye and visual system.

Ophthalmology training enables eye specialists to provide the entire spectrum of eye care, including the prescription of glasses and contact lenses, medical treatment and complex ocular surgery.

In Australia and New Zealand, an ophthalmologist is required to have undertaken a minimum of 12 years of training, including:

Each of our ophthalmologists at Sydney Ophthalmic Specialists are also involved in scientific research into causes and cures for eye diseases and vision problems.

An Orthoptist is an allied health professional who is trained to diagnose and manage disorders of eye movements and associated vision problems. They are also trained to perform investigative testing of eye diseases. At Sydney Ophthalmic Specialists, ophthalmologists and orthoptists work collaboratively in the care of patients.

An Optometrist can examine eyes, give advice on visual problems, and prescribe and fit glasses or contact lenses. If eye disease is detected, an optometrist will refer patients to an ophthalmologist for further management, especially those with chronic eye diseases. The typical training for an optometrist in Australia and New Zealand includes: