Frequently Asked Questions

Question Categories

General Questions About Our Practice

Ophthalmologists spend four years in medical school followed by four additional years of internship and residency to become experts in treating eye diseases and performing eye surgery. Pediatric ophthalmologists complete an additional fellowship year to sub-specialize in the management of eye movement disorders (strabismus), and visual rehabilitation for children and teenagers with impaired visual development (amblyopia). Pediatric ophthalmologists treat a variety of medical conditions that affect visual function and development. They utilize glasses, contact lenses, prisms, orthoptic therapy, medications, and surgery to enhance and improve visual function.

Optometrists spend four years in training in optometry school, and may spend additional time training in sub-specialties such as pediatrics.  Our pediatric optometrists have specialized training and experience in pediatrics, including children with special needs, non-verbal children and toddlers.  Optometrists are experts in treating a variety of ocular disease states and evaluate ocular consequences of systemic diseases such as diabetes, neurofibromatosis, and other genetic disorders.  They manage both external and intraocular disease processes and can order specialized testing.  Our pediatric optometrists are involved in several clinical trials of novel treatments for amblyopia and strabismus and have a particular interest in slowing myopia (near-sightedness) progression.   They manage many of the same conditions, utilize the same instrumentation and testing, and prescribe similar treatments as our ophthalmologists.  Our pediatric optometrists see both new and established patients in the practice.  If surgery or any additional expertise is warranted, they can provide quick referrals and easy access to our ophthalmologists.  

In addition to English, a Spanish-speaking staff member is available for translation.

Appointment Questions

Appointments will generally take 1-2 hours from your check-in time. Some appointments are faster, but dilated eye exams are never quick appointments. Please plan your schedule to allow for a 2 hour window.

Whether a child is dilated depends on the reason for the visit.  Frequently, our exams do require the use of dilating drops.  When your child’s eyes are dilated, the pupils are temporarily enlarged.  The allows the doctor to get a better view of the optic nerves and retinas.  Dilation also allows the doctors to measure for refractive errors, especially in younger children.  This provides the doctor the information necessary to determine the glasses prescription that best corrects your child’s refractive error.

 The numbing drop feels cool and tingles.  The numbing drop produces little or no irritation.  Once numbed, they will not feel the other drops. 

Some people experience the effects of dilating drops for longer periods than other people.  People with with lighter color eyes may experience the dilation longer.  Dilation in children usually lasts less than 24 hours, but if the child’s eyes are still dilated for another day after that, it’s OK.  The blurred vision at near wears off in about 1 hour.

The eye drops need time to work.  The effects of the normal strength drops peak at 20-30 minutes after instillation.  Low dose drops take 45 minutes after instillation.  The drops are important for determining the health of the eye and the cycloplegic refraction.  

Yes.  If your child was dilated, your child’s eyes may be a bit light sensitive and vision could be a bit blurry.  We will give him or her disposable shades and a detailed school note explaining the effects of dilation so the school or daycare is aware. 

A refraction is the process of the doctor determining the glasses or contacts prescription that will correct your child’s vision.  There are different types of refraction, but ultimately your doctor will use the information from the different types of refraction to calculate your final best corrected refraction for either glasses or contact lens prescription.

Yes, especially if you want the doctor to evaluate the fit and vision of the contact lenses in your eyes. You may be asked to take the contact lenses out of your eyes during the examination, so please also bring your glasses with you.
Yes, please bring all recent glasses (reading and distance) with you to your exam.
You may call our office and request an appointment for a surgical second opinion. Our experienced surgeon will provide you with the information you need to make a well-informed decision regarding your surgery.

Minors age 17 and younger must be accompanied by an adult. Parents or guardians who cannot accompany their child must provide a Letter of Consent that authorizes another person to bring the minor to the appointment. If a new patient or if it has been more than 1 year since the patient was seen, the online registration needs to be completed prior to the visit and the person bringing the minor must bring a list of medications the child currently takes, any glasses and/or contacts worn, insurance cards, photo ID, copay, and any deductible due.

It is the policy of Virginia Pediatric Eye Center to monitor and manage appointment “no shows” and “same day cancellations.” Our goal is to provide excellent care to each patient in a timely manner. If it is necessary to cancel an appointment, patients are required to call or leave a message at least 24 hours before their appointment time. Notification allows the practice to better utilize appointments for other patients in need of prompt medical care.

“No Show” means any patient who fails to arrive for a scheduled appointment. “Same Day Cancellation” means any patient who cancels an appointment less than 24 hours before their scheduled appointment.

Virginia Pediatric Eye Center reserves the right to charge patients a no show fee up to $50 for all missed appointments (“no shows”) and appointments which, absent a compelling reason, are not canceled with a 24-hour advance notice. “No show” fees will be billed to the patient. This fee is not covered by insurance, and must be paid prior to your next appointment. Multiple “no shows” in any 6-12 month period may result in termination from our practice.

In the event of three (3) documented “same day cancellations” or “no shows” the patient may be subject to dismissal from Virginia Pediatric Eye Center. The patient’s chart is reviewed and dismissals are determined by a physician in accordance with Virginia Pediatric Eye Center guidelines.

It is our policy to support and encourage breastfeeding for babies.  We frequently have breastfeeding moms in our office with infant patients, and we encourage moms to breastfeed their babies as needed while in our office.  We recognize the health benefits of breastfeeding, and our top priority is the health and well-being of our pediatric patients.  Additionally, it is our policy to provide any mom who lets us know she needs to pump with a private room where she has access to a clean countertop, comfortable seating, and available power for a breast pump. Please let a staff member know if you need this accommodation during your visit.

 The CDC and Virginia Department of Health still require that everyone wear a mask inside healthcare facilities. This applies to all healthcare locations in Virginia.  Children under the age of 2 years old are exempt.  All adults are required to wear masks.  Masks with valves are not permitted as these do not protect others from the spread of COVID-19.  Valves are openings in the mask that allow exhalations, which could contain SARS-CoV-2 droplets, to escape and infect others.  Masks should fit snugly, be secured with ties or ear loops, and completely cover your mouth and nose.  You should keep your mask on throughout your visit even if you are waiting in a room by yourself or waiting with others.

Medication Questions

To discuss refills or other issues with a prescription medication, you may call our office at (757) 461-0050 and choose option 2 from the phone menu.   You may also email us about prescriptions at Triage@VirginiaPediatricEye.com.  Please do not call our answering service regarding medication refills.

Glasses and Contact Lens Questions

Glasses prescriptions are good for 1 year. To request your prescription, please email Optical@VirginiaPediatricEye.com or call (757) 461-0050 and choose option 4.  If it has been more than a year since your last exam, we will need to schedule an appointment to update the prescription. In general, children’s refractive errors change annually.

The optical shop staff normally notify customers via text messages when glasses have arrived. The best way to ask for an update is to email Optical@VirginiaPediatricEye.com. Alternatively, you can call the optical shop at (757) 461-0050 and choose option 4. The optical shop staff are often busy helping customers who are present in the shop, so calls often go to voicemail. Staff will return calls as soon as possible.

There is technically no age limit. Some babies wear contact lenses due their ocular disease and for specific conditions. Contact lens wear in older children is primarily affected by personal responsibility and motivation. We have some 7 and 8 year olds who do quite well managing their contact lenses. In contrast, there are adults who misuse contacts. Age and size of the eye are not the limiting factors.

No. A new contact lens prescription must be carefully fitted by our staff to avoid serious adverse reactions.  Follow the contact lens instructions is also important for minimizing your risk of infection or contact lens related complications.

Yes, contact lenses provide excellent vision for most sports. However, they do not protect the eyes from injury. Therefore, contact lens wearers should use polycarbonate sports safety goggles or glasses when participating in sports. Our Optical Shop for Kids carries a variety of sports safety goggles.

Please contact our office regarding your prescription either by emailing Triage@VirginiaPediatricEye.com or calling (757) 461-0050. Contact lens prescriptions are good for 1 year.  If it has been more than a year, we will need to schedule an appointment to update the prescription. In general, children’s refractive errors change annually. If it has been more than 6 months since your last contact lens check, please schedule a contact lens evaluation to ensure corneal health, good fit, and best corrected vision.

Insurance and Billing Questions

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the department of the federal government that controls Medicare and Medicaid, decided that refractions are a “non-covered” service. That means you have to pay for that portion of the eye exam. As many private insurance carriers adopt the policies of the federal government, those contracts also require us to collect the fee from you. If we can determine your insurance covers this fee, as some vision plans do, you will not be charged. Our charge for this service is $65.

Vision insurance only covers issues related to mild refractive errors, i.e., nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), and astigmatism.  Vision insurance does not cover conditions related to abnormal visual development (amblyopia), eye misalignment (strabismus), any types of conjunctivitis, or other medical conditions that impact ocular health or neurodevelopment regarding the visual system.  Medical diagnoses cannot be billed to a vision plan.  In most cases, your referring doctor is referring the patient for conditions that impact ocular health and visual development and will send a referral to address the various medical issues related to the patient’s ocular health or neurodevelopment of the visual system. 

In most cases,  you do not need a referral for using a vision plan if your child already has a known minor refractive issue and only requires an update in glasses.  If they have a different complaint unrelated to glasses or contacts, we are not allowed to bill the visit to your vision plan.  Insurance companies require us to bill medical office visit codes with medical diagnoses codes.

Your vision plan can be used for office visits related to minor refractive issues that are not considered severe enough to impact visual development.  Your vision plan may also cover some of the cost related to purchasing glasses.

Your medical health insurance is required in addition to your vision insurance because your vision insurance policy will not cover the services if you are evaluated or treated for a medical condition. If your reason for the visit in related to a medical condition or symptom or if the doctor finds a condition during the examination,  your visit will be considered a medical exam. Your vision insurance covers a wellness benefit for healthy eye exams, including routine eye care, prescription glasses, and contact lenses at a reduced cost.  Your medical health insurance covers costs for eye injury, disease, or any acute conditions or problems that may be evaluated and treated during your visit.  Some examples of medical conditions include headache, diabetes mellitus, eye irritation, pink eye, dry eyes, allergies, floaters, contact lens intolerance, glaucoma, cataract, eye muscle imbalance, strabismus (eye turn), amblyopia (lazy eye), macular degeneration, and others.

We are bound by our agreement with the insurance plans to bill all visits appropriately based upon the diagnosis.  Medical exams will be denied as a non-covered service by your vision plan.  Your vision insurance covers a wellness benefit for healthy eye exams, including routine eye care, prescription glasses, and contact lenses at a reduced cost.  In contrast, your medical health insurance covers costs for eye injury, disease, or any acute conditions or problems that may be evaluated and treated during your visit.   Some examples of medical conditions include headache, diabetes mellitus, eye irritation, pink eye, dry eyes, allergies, floaters, contact lens intolerance, glaucoma, cataract, eye muscle imbalance, strabismus (eye turn), amblyopia (lazy eye), macular degeneration, and others.   You can call the phone number on the back of your vision insurance card or look up your insurance policy details online.  Please call us if you have any remaining questions after you have reviewed your vision plan policy details.  

If you do not have insurance coverage for a routine eye exam, our fee is $185 which includes both the medical exam and the refraction. The refraction is the portion of the exam where the doctor determines the prescription you need for glasses.
Co-payments, co-insurance and payment for service that are not covered by insurance must be rendered at the time of the visit. We gladly accept personal checks, Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, and debit cards.

Medical Records Questions

Please fill out our medical records request form. You can email the completed form to Records@VirginiaPediatricEye.com or fax it to 757-461-4538.

It typically takes 7-10 business days. In certain cases, such as very old records that have been archived, it may take 15 days or more.
No. Search and handling fees apply, consistent with the Code of Virginia 8.01.413. Fees are up to $20 plus page fees. For paper copies of records, page fees are $0.50 per printed page (1-50 pages) plus $0.25 per printed page (over 50 pages) For digital copies of records, page fees are $0.37 per digital page (1-50 pages) plus $0.18 per digital page (over 50 pages). The records fees stated above apply regardless of the reason for the records request, including when care is being transferred to another doctor.

Yes. Letters go through the same process as regular medical record requests.  The first step is to submit a medical records request form to allow us to disclose protected health information to the party you would like us to address the letter to. After signing a release, a payment is of $50 is required before the letter will be written. It can take 10-15 business days to write and sign an official letter.

A form fee of $35 is required. Once payment has been received, it takes 7-10 business days for forms to be completed and signed.

Eye Health Questions

The retina contains many blood vessels, which usually finish developing when babies are full term.  In babies born prematurely, these blood vessels have not yet finished developing, are incompletely formed, and may not develop properly. These immature blood vessels can begin growing abnormally.  These abnormalities can eventually proceed to retinal detachment and blindness.  Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP)  is a leading cause of childhood blindness.  Premature infants at risk for retinopathy of prematurity require close monitoring while the retina is still developing.  Monitoring for progressive disease is essential to determine if your child requires treatment for severe forms of ROP.

Pink eye is a general term for a type of red eye.  A very common cause of pink eye is viral conjunctivitis, which is extremely contagious.  Bacterial conjunctivitis can also cause pink eye and can also be contagious.  If your child has pink eye symptoms, he or she should avoid touching the eyes and face, wash hands frequently, avoid sharing towels, and avoid school or daycare activities.  Your doctor can provide you with an excuse note. 

Reading in dim light may make your eyes feel tired, but it does not cause a decline in vision.