Patient Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

What are your hours?
  • North Idaho Eye Institute is open from 7:30 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. Monday through Friday. We open our door at 7:15 A.M.
  • Coeur d Alene Optical is open from 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.
  • Post Falls Eye Clinic and Post Falls Optical are open from 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.
  • North Idaho Cataract & Laser is open Monday through Thursday from 6:30 A.M. to 2:00 P.M.
How long will my exam take?
  • A Comprehensive Eye Exam averages 1 to 1-1/2 hours; please plan accordingly.
  • Other eye exams vary from 30 minutes to 1-1/2 hours depending on the medical need.
  • If further tests (such as visual fields testing or photographs of the interior of the eye) are required, allow for additional time.
What is dilation?
  • Most Comprehensive Eye Exams include dilation of the pupils for optimal viewing of the back of the eye.
  • This is accomplished by placing drops in your eye to enlarge your pupils and temporarily immobilize your ocular focusing muscles.
Will I be able to drive home after dilation?
  • Because the ocular focusing muscles are temporarily immobilized by the dilating drops, close vision may be blurred for 3-4 hours.
  • Many of our patients are able to drive home with the aid of sunglasses for the glare.
  • If you have not had the experience of pupil dilation, for enhanced safety it is advised you make arrangements to have someone drive you home.
What is a Comprehensive Eye Exam?
  • A comprehensive medical eye exam evaluates your vision, the possible need for vision corrections, and a spectrum of tests and observations to help identify potential eye diseases.
  • A thorough patient history, including general and specific health is reviewed. Eye muscles, pupil function, and intraocular pressure measurements are taken.
  • After dilation, the doctor uses specific eye equipment that allows for the evaluation of your optic nerve, retina, cornea and lens.
What is astigmatism?
  • Astigmatism occurs when the cornea is shaped more like an oblong football than a spherical baseball, which is the normal shape of a cornea.
  • This causes light to focus on more than one point in the eye, resulting in blurred vision.
  • It is very common and can be corrected with glasses or contacts.
What is intraocular pressure?
  • Pressure within the eye is maintained by a delicate balance of the continuous flow of fluid necessary for the health of the eye.
  • High pressure can damage the optic nerve contributing to peripheral vision loss. This condition is known as open angle glaucoma and untreated can result in complete vision loss.
  • North Idaho Eye Institute uses applanation tonometry to measure intraocular pressure.
What is a cataract?
  • A cataract is a gradual clouding of the usually clear lens inside the eye.
  • When the clouding obstructs your vision enough to keep you from the things you like to do, or need to do, you should consider cataract surgery.
  • Surgery is the only way to remove a cataract.
What is refraction and will my insurance pay for it?

A refraction is a test that is done to measure your best possible vision. During the test, different lenses are placed in front of the eye to determine which one performs the best.

A refraction is done for many different reasons:

  • To determine the best potential vision for each eye
  • To establish a reference point, against which, the extent of any eye problem can be measured
  • To evaluate and monitor medical conditions of the eye such as diabetes, cataracts, glaucoma, or macular degeneration
  • Pre-operative care to aid in surgical management
  • Post operative care to optimize the post surgical result
  • To determine the correct prescription for glasses or contacts

Medicare, Medicare HMO’s and most insurance plans secondary to Medicare do not cover refractions regardless of the medical condition associated with the office visit. This is a formal Medicare policy. Medicare requires that we charge separately for this service, since they have determined that it is never a covered service.*

Some commercial insurance policies will pay for the refraction test, and some will not.

It is our office policy that when we understand that your insurance company will not cover the refraction charge – as with other charges – you will be responsible for payment at the time of service.

*Since 1992, under section 1862 (a) (1) (A) of the Social Security Act Title XVIII – Health Insurance for the Aged and Disabled, Medicare has classified refractions as a non-covered service for patients. This is a Federal law.

Are you a contracted provider with my insurance?

The major insurance companies that we contract with include:

  • Group Health
  • Medicare Railroad
  • Medicare
  • Idaho Medicaid
  • Blue Cross of Idaho
  • Blue Cross Med Advantage
  • Blue Shield Med Advantage
  • Secure Horizons
  • Sterling Options
  • Premera Blue Cross
  • Regence Blue Shield of Idaho
  • Asuris Northwest Health Group
  • First Choice
  • First Health
  • United HealthCare
  • PHCS
  • PHCO
  • Humana
  • Sierra Optima
  • Aetna
  • Vision Service Plan

We suggest each patient contact their insurance company before the exam to establish your specific insurance coverage. Many of the above insurance plans offer more than one product, and we would not be able to know all plans, options and benefits. If referrals are necessary it is the patient’s responsibility to obtain referrals prior to seeing the doctor.

Has my insurance company been billed?

If North Idaho Eye Institute is contracted with your insurance company, you will receive a statement of your account by mail after we have submitted your claim to your insurance company.

How can I get a copy of my medical records?

You will need to sign an authorization to release your medical records form that we can provide upon your request. You can also send us a written request.

Do you do LASIK Corrective Surgery?

We offer co-management care (pre- and post-operative care) for refractive surgery. Please contact Kathy, our Refractive Surgery Coordinator to discuss your candidacy for a refractive procedure and referral.

When Should my child's vision be tested?
  • A child first eye exam should be done by a pediatrician or family doctor during the first year of the child’s life.
  • If the child’s doctor decides that further evaluation is necessary, make an appointment with a qualified ophthalmologist.
  • The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that all children have their vision re-checked by their pediatrician, family physician, or ophthalmologist at or before their fourth birthday.
  • Click here to see a full list of the recommended intervals for eye exams and screenings.
How can I prepare my child for an Eye Exam?
  • Calmly explain to your child that he/she will be asked to look at and identify letters, numbers or objects for the doctor and staff.
  • Each eye is checked separately. Explain that the doctor will put drops in his/her eyes to allow the doctor to get a better view of the interior of the eye. This dilating process takes an estimated 20-30 minutes.
  • Please bring your child’s favorite toy or an activity to help with the wait.
  • After the exam, the pupils will remain dilated for several hours. This may result in blurring of the near vision as well as sensitivity to sunlight.
How is privacy and confidentiality handled?

Please click here to see our privacy approach.