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How Long Should You Allow For Your Initial Optometrist Appointment?

In this week, we look at how long you should be spending at an optometrist’s office so you can plan your schedule efficiently for the rest of your day.

A common question we get asked in our practice is how much time should we allocate for our routine eye appointment? Why is it that at Capital Eye, our optometry practice in Canberra, have 1-hour appointments whereas other practices may advertise their appointment times in 15 – 20-minute blocks? Despite the drastic difference in appointment times for a comprehensive eye examination across multiple practices, is there a difference in service delivery?

At Capital Eye, we want to understand your entire eye health history and understand that everyone’s needs are different. That way, we can deliver and tailor and personalise our services to you. We recognise that our eyes are attached to the individual. We do not want to rush the process in understanding how your eyes work in your environment. By having a full understanding of your eyes, we have complete confidence in recommending you a product that works for you; whether it is the type of multifocal lenses you require, contact lenses or general advice regarding your eye health. This process can take as long as it needs for our patients to describe their problems to us. From our experience, this alone would take around 10 – 20 minutes.

The standard eye test then generally follows after a thorough discussion of your needs. At Capital Eye optometrist in Canberra, it typically takes around another 30 – 40 minutes. The reason being is we perform a dilated eye examination (DFE) on all new patients to the practice. We examine the back of your eyes through your pupils. We can only exam as much retina as the pupil size allows us to. By dilating your eyes on the first presentation enable the optometrist to examine your entire retina and not just limited to your macula or optic nerve. Examining your peripheral retina is just as important as looking at your optic nerve and macula health. It may review early signs or any pre-existing conditions which may otherwise be missed without a DFE. Because your pupils are expanded, after the eye test, your vision may be blurry and very sensitive to light. It is not uncommon to take several hours (sometimes the rest of the day) for the dilating drops to wear off. If it is your first visit with us, it is important to allow some extra time for the dilated eye examination. *If you required to return to work after the eye test, we would have to re-arrange a DFE for another day typically when you come in and collect your new spectacles.*

If you require new glasses, either new pair of multifocal glasses, prescription sunglasses, glasses for driving or reading, it is recommended that you allow an additional 20 – 30 minutes for the dispense of your new spectacles. You can appreciate that you would need some time picking and choosing a new frame for your new prescription lenses. There is a whole range of different lenses options that may be available to you, especially when you require new multifocal lenses. At Capital Eye, being an independent lens supplier means we have no commercial obligations to offer you a product that may compromise your comfort of vision. We will source whatever lens that is the most suitable for you.

The Bottom Line

At our optometry practice in Canberra, we don’t ‘process’ our patients like a factory assembly line. Our goal is to make sure that you are understood and to leave our practice satisfied with a workable solution. We could not simply achieve a deep understanding of each other’s needs in a rushed 20-minute appointment. (Not to say 20-minute appointments aren’t thorough). Essentially, we tell our patients and clients to allow for at least 1 hour for the initial appointment or perhaps longer if they chose to decide to purchase and update their lenses. During your initial appointment, your eyes may be dilated, and your vision might be affected for the rest of the day. We advised that you plan your day accordingly following a DFE.