Frequently Asked Questions

Below you’ll find answers to some of the questions we get asked the most.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to Contact Us.

Your eye is an incredible, complex organ that requires all parts to function seamlessly for optimal vision. As such, when further evaluation or treatment of the retina is needed, referral to a Retinal Specialist may be necessary. This specialized doctor has expertise in managing and treating any issues concerning this delicate lining at the back of your eyewall. Protecting sight through careful examination of components like these can make all the difference in preserving your eyesight.

Your Optometrist can provide you with general care such as evaluating the need for glasses, and your Opthamologist provides medical treatment and intervention for eye disease or injury – however a Retina Specialist has completed further extensive medical and surgical eyecare training in order to correctly diagnose and treat the complex disorders of the retina, macula, and vitreous.

Depending upon your condition, several diagnostic tests may need to be performed during your visit. The types of testing deemed necessary may mean that you may need to be prepared to spend 1 to 3 hours for your appointment. You will need someone to drive you due to your eyes being dilated and if you are to undergo any treatments to your eyes.

A completed patient medical information form, your driver’s license or identification card, and your insurance card will be requested during the check-in for your appointment. Let us know all the medications you are currently taking, and if you wear glasses or contacts, please bring them with you.

During your examination, we’ll ask for pertinent information regarding your eyes, concerns, and overall health condition. Although you may be experiencing problems with one of your eyes – both eyes will be examined and compared for the determination and diagnosis of any existing or potential problems concerning your eye health and the quality of your eyesight. Your doctor may also suggest further appropriate testing or treatment depending upon the results of your examination.

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At South Carolina Retina Institute, we accept almost every health plan and insurance such as Medicare, Medicaid, Humana, Aetna, UnitedHealthcare, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna, Tricare (now Humana Military), and CHAMPVA.

If you don’t see your plan listed, please contact our office. The managed care health insurance market changes rapidly, and specific coverage questions should be discussed directly with your insurance company or our knowledgeable staff.
If your plan requires a copay, it will be collected upon checking in for your appointment.

As most health insurance plans have deductibles that apply for surgical procedures, please be aware that you will need to pay your portion if surgical services are completed.

Patients with HMO and insurance requiring authorization – it is often necessary to call your primary care physician to obtain a referral – and to confirm that the doctor you are seeing is in your particular plan or network. Please Contact Us with any specific questions regarding your insurance coverage.

Macular degeneration, although primarily an age-related disorder, can also manifest in younger individuals and has been linked to a variety of factors such as such as genetic predispositions, smoking history, or nutritional deficiencies. Recent research indicates that the cause could be linked to a genetic heritage or other factors such as diabetes, head injury, and nutrition deficits.

The risk factors associated with AMD increase with the presence of cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol levels, and high blood pressure. Individuals who are overweight, smoke cigarettes, consume a high-fat diet or have a family history of AMD are at an increased risk as well. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of vision loss for those aged 50 or older.

»Learn more about macular degeneration

Anti-VEGF medications are used to treat certain eye conditions that involve abnormal blood vessel growth and leakage in the eye.

In conditions such as wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy, and retinal vein occlusion – VEGF is overproduced, leading to abnormal blood vessel growth and leakage in the eye. Anti-VEGF medications work by blocking the action of VEGF, which helps to reduce blood vessel growth and leakage and can improve vision.

»Learn more about Anti-VEGF Treatments

Fluorescein Angiography (FA) is a diagnostic procedure that helps in the accurate diagnosis and evaluation of various eye conditions. During the procedure, a small amount of fluorescein is injected into a vein in the arm and travels through the bloodstream to the blood vessels in the eye. A special camera with filters is used to take pictures of the retina as the dye circulates through the blood vessels.

The dye fluoresces (emits light) under a blue light, which allows the blood vessels in the retina to be visualized and photographed. The test is used to detect abnormalities in the blood vessels, such as leaks or blockages, which can be caused by a variety of eye diseases, including diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, and retinal vein occlusion.

On the day of your test, maintain your regular schedule and take any necessary medication – no special preparation is required. The results will be carefully reviewed and discussed with you.

We are dedicated to making sure your visit is as convenient and comfortable for you. Please bring sunglasses, since the eye drops and dye may make light uncomfortable. You will likely have blurry vision for a few hours after testing, so please plan ahead by having someone drive you home. If our specialist suspects a condition requiring urgent treatment, there might be additional procedures performed on the same day.

Fluorescein dye is a virtually harmless, non-radioactive solution with vivid yellow-orange coloring. Its effects are temporary as the skin may develop a tinge of its hue for several hours following application and it can give urine an orange tint for up to 24 hours. For some, the contrast dye injected during the procedure may cause nausea. In rare cases an allergic reaction can occur – treatable using medications like Benadryl. Your specialist will carefully have reviewed your medical history to discuss all side effects and precautions with you.

Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a non-invasive imaging technique that uses light waves to produce high-resolution, cross-sectional images of tissues within the eye. It is commonly used to diagnose and monitor various eye conditions, particularly those affecting the retina and optic nerve.

During an OCT examination, a patient sits in front of a machine that uses a light beam to scan the eye. The light waves are reflected back from the various layers of the retina and other tissues within the eye, and the machine uses this information to create a detailed, 3D image of the eye’s internal structure. The procedure is quick and painless, taking only a few minutes to complete.

OCT is particularly useful in the diagnosis and monitoring of conditions such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and optic neuritis. It can detect subtle changes in the thickness and integrity of the retina and optic nerve, allowing doctors to detect and track the progression of these conditions over time. OCT can also be used to guide certain eye surgeries, such as those for macular holes or retinal detachments.

Overall, OCT is a valuable tool in the diagnosis, monitoring, and treatment of various eye conditions, providing detailed and accurate information about the structure and function of the eye.

Fundus photos, also known as fundus photography or retinal photography, are high-resolution images of the interior surface of the eye, including the retina, optic nerve, and blood vessels. Fundus photography is a non-invasive diagnostic procedure that is used to capture images of the back of the eye, and it is an important tool for diagnosing and monitoring various eye conditions.

During a fundus photography exam, a specialized camera is used to capture detailed images of the eye’s internal structures. The camera uses a bright light and a series of lenses to focus on the retina and other structures at the back of the eye. The images can be captured in color or black and white, and they can be viewed on a computer monitor or printed for later analysis.

Fundus photos are used to diagnose and monitor a wide range of eye conditions, including diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, retinal detachment, and glaucoma. They can also be used to track the progression of certain eye diseases over time and to evaluate the success of certain treatments.

Overall, fundus photography is a valuable diagnostic tool for eye doctors, providing detailed images of the eye’s internal structures that can aid in the diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring of various eye conditions.

Panretinal photocoagulation (PRP) is a laser treatment used to treat several eye conditions, most commonly diabetic retinopathy and sometimes retinal vein occlusion. The treatment involves using a laser to apply numerous small laser spots to the peripheral retina, which helps to reduce the risk of further damage or bleeding in the retina.

During a PRP treatment, a doctor uses a specialized laser to apply small, scattered laser spots to the retina. These spots produce controlled scarring in the peripheral retina, which reduces the risk of bleeding and further damage to the retina caused by conditions like diabetic retinopathy. The treatment takes less than five minutes and is usually done in an outpatient setting.

PRP is effective in treating diabetic retinopathy by reducing the amount of oxygen that is required by the retina. By doing so, the laser treatment helps to reduce the growth of new, abnormal blood vessels in the retina, which can cause further damage and bleeding. The treatment may also help to reduce the risk of vision loss or blindness caused by diabetic retinopathy.

PRP can have some side effects, such as temporary blurred vision and mild discomfort during and after the procedure. However, the benefits of the treatment usually outweigh the risks, and it is considered a safe and effective treatment for diabetic retinopathy and retinal vein occlusion.

A vitrectomy is a surgical procedure in which the clear gel-like substance (vitreous) inside the eye is removed and replaced with a saline solution or gas bubble. This procedure is often performed to treat conditions that affect the vitreous, such as retinal detachment, macular hole, or vitreous hemorrhage.

During a vitrectomy, a surgeon makes small incisions in the eye and inserts small instruments, including a cutting tool and a light, to remove the vitreous. Once the vitreous has been removed, the surgeon may use laser or other techniques to repair any damage to the retina or other structures inside the eye. In some cases, a saline solution or gas bubble may be injected into the eye to help maintain its shape while it heals.

Vitrectomy is usually performed under local anesthesia, which numbs the eye, and patients are typically awake during the procedure. It may take several weeks to fully recover from the surgery, during which time the eye may be sensitive and require special care.

While vitrectomy is generally considered a safe and effective procedure, it does carry some risks, including infection, bleeding, and damage to other structures inside the eye. Your doctor will discuss the risks and benefits of the procedure with you and help you determine if vitrectomy is the right treatment option for your condition.

Uncontrolled high blood pressure can be damaging to your eyes and vision. It’s essential for maintaining eye health that you keep your blood pressure in check, along with managing cholesterol levels and diabetes; doing so not only helps protect against potential sight issues but also other serious complications throughout the body. The tiny vessels transporting vital nutrients to the retina are particularly at risk of damage over time due to elevated blood pressure.

Sudden changes in blood pressure and high blood pressure can have devastating effects on your vision. Many of us may be unaware that blood pressure fluctuations can lead to serious ocular problems such as macular swelling, leaking vessels, and the blockage of veins which hinder proper sight – such as occurs with Central Retinal Vein Occlusion (CRVO) or Branch Retinal Vein Occlusion (BRVO). If these conditions arise or are left untreated, decreased vision and even blindness can result.

Diabetes can cause far-reaching complications, impacting the delicate blood vessels in and around your eyes. Diabetic Retinopathy is one such health concern as this condition develops when high blood sugar levels damage the tiny vessels in the retina of each eye – causing them to swell or close off completely, leak fluid into nearby tissue, or to create abnormal blood vessels that can hamper normal vision. This can lead to decreased central vision, hemorrhage blocking your entire view, retinal detachments, and glaucoma. Without proper eye examinations or treatment, the result may be severe and permanent visual loss. Regular checkups are important for diagnosing any changes early so you don’t risk compromising your eyesight permanently. This makes managing both your blood sugar levels (BSL) and your blood pressure levels extremely important as a crucial step towards keeping this serious condition at bay.