Frequently Asked Questions
What does an ophthalmic examination involve?
An ophthalmic examination for a new patient includes:
- Obtaining a detailed history
- Vision testing
- Examination of the anterior (Front) segment of the eye (the eyelids, conjunctiva, cornea, anterior chamber, iris, and lens) using a slit lamp biomicroscope and direct illumination
- Examination of the posterior (back) segment of the eye (vitreous, retina, and optic nerve) using an indirect ophthalmoscope and condensing lens.
- Performing any additional diagnostic tests that are indicated for your pet’s eye condition.
Additional diagnostic tests may be required for your pet, such as Schirmer tear testing for dry eye, tonometry (measuring the intraocular pressure), refraction (to determine the optics of the eyes), gonioscopy (to determine the anatomy of the iridocorneal angle). These tests are usually performed at the time of the initial consultation. Other specialized testing, such as electroretinography (measures the electrical activity of the retina) or ocular ultrasound (images the eye or orbit when direct evaluation is not possible) may be recommended and can usually be performed the same day as the appointment or the morning of scheduled surgery.
It is absolutely critical that we perform our own exam and diagnostic testing in most cases (even if your veterinarian has previously done the same diagnostic tests) so that we can provide you with a correct diagnosis and a treatment plan for your pet. We accept blood work that was previously done by your veterinarian but this may also need to be repeated in certain cases.
It is our goal that you are well-educated and have a clear understanding about your pet’s eye condition. We will provide a diagnosis, describe the ocular condition in clear and understandable terms, discuss the necessary recommended medication(s) and treatment instructions to you, both verbally and in a detailed written “Discharge Instructions”.
Timely communication with your veterinarian is also very important to us. A copy of the Discharge Instructions will also be faxed to your veterinarian on the same day that your pet was examined.
Do I need a referral from my veterinarian before I can make an appointment?
Although referral by your veterinarian is not mandatory, we do prefer to have your pet’s history available to us before the appointment date whenever possible. They can email to: [email protected] or fax to: 517-655-2777.
How long does an appointment take?
We make a sincere attempt to see you on time for your pet’s appointment. However, because of the limited options for animal ophthalmologists in the state of Michigan, we have to accommodate emergency appointments on a daily basis. These emergencies may cause unavoidable delays in our schedule. We will provide you and your pet with the same careful attention devoted to others. Most new appointments can last 20-40 minutes. Medical and surgical re-evaluation appointments vary between 5 and 20 minutes. Early morning appointments and appointments immediately after lunch are most likely to be on-time.
What if I “no show” or cancel an appointment with less than 24 hours notice?
Appointment Confirmation Policy: We will send a courtesy appointment reminder via your preference (email, call or text) to confirm your pet’s appointment. You must reply to the confirmation attempt to keep your pet’s appointment with at least 24 hours notice. It is your responsibility to confirm the appointment. If you do not confirm at least 24 hours before the start of your appointment, we will have to assume you are not keeping your appointment and offer it to another patient.
No Show/No Call Policy: We understand that there are times when you must miss an appointment due to emergencies or obligations for work or family. However, when you do not call to cancel an appointment, you may be preventing another patient from getting much needed treatment. Conversely, the situation may arise where another patient fails to cancel and we are unable to schedule you for a visit, due to a seemingly full appointment book. If an appointment is not cancelled at least 24 hours in advance you will be charged an $85 missed appointment fee. We will forgive any weather related last minute cancellations at any time, as most of our clients must travel a distance. If you no show for your appointment, it will NOT be rescheduled. If you disagree with this policy, please do not schedule an examination appointment at The Animal Ophthalmology Center.
What if I am running late for my appointment?
We understand that most of our clients must travel a great distance to our clinic and unforeseen traffic and weather related issues may occur during your travels. If you think you may be running late, please call our office so that we may advise you if your late arrival can be accommodated, or if we will need to reschedule your appointment. In most cases, we can accommodate you, (unless you will arrive after we close) but please understand if you arrive late, we may delay your appointment to keep on schedule and you will be worked in as soon as possible.
Should I inform Dr. Ramsey and his staff if my pet may bite?
PLEASE inform us PRIOR to exam if your pet may become nervous with restraint or close contact so that we may have you place a muzzle. Even if your pet has never snapped at, or bitten anyone before, our exam requires us to be eye-to-eye with your pet, and can cause some pets to become nervous and/or anxious. Please understand that this is for our protection and will not harm or traumatize your pet in any way. If your pet shows ANY sign of fear or aggression (growling, showing teeth, etc) we will require a muzzle be placed by you to complete our exam. If you are unable (or unwilling) to muzzle your pet when necessary, please understand that we may be unable to attempt or complete an exam. Thank you for your cooperation and understanding!!
Should I inform Dr Ramsey and his staff if my pet does not like other animals?
Absolutely. We can arrange a scenario so that your pet will not come into contact with another pet while entering or exiting our building. Please check in with the front desk WITHOUT your pet and we will make sure that an exam room is available to isolate your pet.
What is the approximate cost of an examination?
Our standard examination fee starts at $240. Same-day emergency appointments will start at $325 for the exam and pressure reading. This includes a complete ophthalmic examination of both eyes, using slit lamp biomicroscopy and indirect ophthalmoscopy and Tonometry (measures pressures of the eyes). Any additional diagnostic procedures that are indicated for your pet’s particular problem (such as tear testing, fluorescein staining of the eye, etc.) are not included in the standard examination and charges will be incurred for any other diagnostic tests in addition to the standard examination fee. If medications are dispensed, additional charges for medications will also be incurred in addition to the examination fee and diagnostic testing fees. Same-day work-in emergency appointments will start at $325 for the exam and eye pressure (tonometry) reading.
Therefore, the cost for an ophthalmic evaluation of your pet will depend on the nature of your pet’s eye problem, and if any specialized diagnostic testing is required for your pet. For example, when cataracts are suspected, we may or may not have to perform an ultrasound in addition to the complete ophthalmic examination, thus adding $165 to your exam fee. Medications may also be dispensed when indicated and additional charges for medications will also be incurred. Financial estimates provided by telephone, based on your description of the eye abnormality present, are approximate estimates. We cannot give an exact cost of services over the telephone.
How much does surgery cost?
Financial estimates provided by telephone, based on your description of the eye abnormality present, are approximate estimates. We reserve the right to modify any estimate provided by telephone once an examination has been completed. For most surgical procedures, we cannot provide you with a definitive financial estimate without first examining your pet. This is because each patient is different and the same abnormality may vary in severity or conformation, requiring different surgical treatments. For example, some eyelid surgical procedures are more complicated than others and require additional surgical and anesthetic times. If surgery is indicated for your pet, we will provide you with a complete written financial estimate for the surgical procedure immediately after the examination on the day of your appointment. It is also our policy that blood work (a CBC, serum biochemical profile and electrolytes) must be performed prior to sedation or general anesthesia and surgery. You have your regular veterinarian perform blood work prior to the day of surgery, or we can perform it here on the day your pets surgery is scheduled. It is NOT an option to decline blood work. We can accept blood work that has been performed by your veterinarian within the last 3 months, unless the results were abnormal. If blood work was abnormal, your pet is elderly, or diabetic, we may require that it is repeated as close to the surgery day as possible.
What forms of payment do you accept?
Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express, personal checks and cash. Payment for services is due in full upon discharge of your pet. We do not offer in-house payment plans or financing (see below). We currently DO NOT accept Wells-Fargo Financing.
We do offer a third-party, credit card program called CareCredit for payments: (please apply before your appointment if you would like to use this option)
- 6 months no interest term for ANY amount over $200. WE DO NOT OFFER 12, 18 OR 24 MONTH INTEREST FREE OPTIONS.
- Amounts from $1000 and up have a 24, 36 or 48 month term with interest rate starting at 14.90%*. *interest rate starts at 14.90% when choosing 24 mo. and increases when longer terms are chosen/
- Amounts from $2500 and up have a 60 month term with 14.90% interest rate
Can I make payments?
Payment plans are accepted through CareCredit only. See above terms. If you already have an account, you may bring your card with two pieces of I.D. Cardholder MUST be present at time of sale.
If my pet requires eye surgery, when (which days) is surgery performed by Dr. Ramsey?
Surgical appointment drop-off times are scheduled between 8am-10am on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
What should I expect on a surgery day?
We try to schedule your pet’s drop-off time at least 2 hours before surgery is scheduled to allow for blood work, pre-medication, IV catheter placement, and other pre-surgical diagnostic testing and surgical preparation. Most pets are hospitalized for an average of 4-6 hours. PLEASE NOTE: This period of time can vary as we see emergency appointments almost daily, thus our surgical schedule may be later than anticipated or scheduled. Discharge times from the hospital are scheduled between 3-4:15pm. We will contact you when surgery for your pet is finished and give a pick up time. We will also provide you with a complete report on how your pet’s surgery progressed, and assign a pick-up time your pet will be ready to be picked up. None of our surgeries require your pet to remain hospitalized overnight. We understand the importance of minimizing hospitalization, especially in older and anxious pets.
Can I schedule my pet’s consultation and have surgery done the same day?
We understand that many of our clients must travel a great distance, however there are many instances where surgery is recommended and we find that it is not needed after examining the patient, or we need to treat a condition medically prior to doing surgery. The only procedure where surgery is almost always recommended is Cherry Eye (Nictitan gland) Replacement surgery. If we do a consultation for cherry eye and surgery on the same day, the appointment must be early morning so that we have time for all surgeries to be completed that day. If surgery is recommended and we judge your pet to be a good candidate for general anesthesia and surgery, your pet will be hospitalized for the day, and surgery will be done as soon as possible but we may have other surgeries that have to go ahead of your pet. Your pet may not be discharged until late afternoon.
Patients with cataracts cannot have a consultation and surgery on the same day as they may require medical treatment prior to surgery and we must also perform an eye exam to determine if your pet is a good candidate for surgery first. We do not schedule initial consultation and surgery for the same day for patients with cataracts.
Does Dr. Ramsey guarantee successful medical treatment and/or surgeries performed?
Unfortunately, there are no guarantees in human or veterinary medicine with any medical or surgical treatment because the ultimate outcome of any medical or surgical therapy depends on the response of the patient receiving treatment. Although the same exact treatment can be done for many different patients, each patient may respond differently, and unpredictably.
What if my pet has an emergency and Dr. Ramsey is unavailable?
The Animal Ophthalmology Center is not a 24-hour emergency clinic. If your pet has an emergency after hours (business hours are Mon-Thurs 8am-4:30pm) or Fri-Sun (we are closed), please call your regular veterinarian immediately for guidance or an appointment/referral to another ophthalmologist closest to you.
Other Veterinary Ophthalmology Clinics in Michigan:
What training does a Veterinary Ophthalmologist Receive?
- College/University (undergraduate study) – 4 years
- Veterinary School – 4 years
- Internship in a Veterinary Hospital – 1 year
- Residency in a Veterinary Ophthalmology Program – 3-4 years
- Successful completion of Credentials and successful completion of the Certifying Examination by The American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists
What are some of the major causes of blindness in animals?
- Glaucoma – pressure inside the eye which becomes so high that it damages the optic nerve–the most common cause of blindness in middle age dogs
- Cataracts – opacification of the crytalline lens which may be caused by genetics, inflammation, infection, aging, or injury
- Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (Dry Eye) – decreased volume or abnormal composition of tears
- Eyelid disorders – abnormal carriage or confirmation of the lids, third eyelid or conjunctiva
- Corneal Disorders – abnormalities of the anatomy or transparency (clouding, pigmentation) of the cornea
- Retinal detachment – when the retina is separated from its underlying blood supply
- Trauma to the eye
What instruments are used by the Ophthalmologist?
Veterinary Ophthalmologists use instruments which are identical to those used in Human Ophthalmology, including the following:
- Veterinary Ophthalmologists use instruments which are identical to those used in Human Ophthalmology, including the following:
- Slit-Lamp Biomicroscope which illuminates the front and interior of the eye with a beam of light
- Tonometer, an instrument used to measure the fluid pressure in the eye
- Binocular Indirect Ophthalmoscope used to examine the posterior vitreous and retina
- Ophthalmic Laser, which can be used to perform precise, delicate operations on the eye
- CryoSurgical Instrument – a device to control the precise flow of liquid nitrogen in the excising of tissue
- Operating Microscope which is used for various types of surgery
- Ocular Ultrasound for imaging and diagnosing eye problems
- Electroretinogram for evaluating retinal function
- Phacoemulsification Machine – ultrasonic emulsification machine for removal of cataracts
What types of problems are seen by the Ophthalmologist?
- Dry Eye – the deficiency in the quality or quantity of tears lubricating the eye which causes constant pain from eye irritation, and a sandy or gritty sensation that, if untreated, can lead to scarring, pigmentation or ulceration of the cornea, and loss of vision
- Cataracts – opacification of the crystalline lens resulting in vision impairment
- Conjunctivitis (inflammation, discharge, etc.)
- Distichiasis Trichiasis (extra or deviated eyelashes)
- Entropion (Eyelids turned in) & Ectropion (Eyelids turned out)
- Enucleation (eye removal)
- Evisceration removal of the contents of a blind, painful eye and placement of an intraocular spherical prosthesis
- Eyelid Tumors
- Prolapse of the Gland of the 3rd eyelid (“Cherry” eye)
- Pannus (chronic superficial keratitis)
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (hereditary retinal degeneration resulting in progressive blindness)
- Ptosis (drooping upper lid)
- Retinal dysplasia – folding and/or thinning of the retina
- Scrolled 3rd eyelid Cartilage (“Popped/flipped” Cartilage)
- Strabismus (eyes not facing same direction)
- Anisocoria (unequal pupils)
- Buphthalmos (enlarged eyeball)
What sorts of emergency problems do Veterinary Ophthalmologists treat?
- Glaucoma (excessive pressure inside eye globe)
- Hyphema (blood in the eye)
- Luxated Lens (loosened or detached lens)
- Corneal Laceration/ulceration
- Orbital Abscess
- Proptosed Globe (eye popped out)
- Uveitis (inflammation inside the eye)
- Exophthalmos (eye protruding from socket)
- Blindness, acute onset
- Keratitis (inflammation of the cornea)