UW Madison, Dept. of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

UW SMPH Clinincs

General Patient Information

A Tradition of Care

Ophthalmologists from the University of Wisconsin have been caring for patients and studying eye diseases since 1925. Our staff includes doctors who provide routine and preventive eye care, as well as specialists who are national leaders in treating glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, eye tumors, and other diseases. In addition to developing sight-saving tests and treatments, department members are also studying the way the eye changes with age, improving corneal transplantation and providing advanced training for ophthalmologists throughout the country.

The Eye Exam

When you visit the clinic as a patient, you’ll receive a complete eye examination. During the process, you may be seen by a nurse, an ophthalmic technician, or a resident physician in addition to your ophthalmologist. Be sure to bring your current glasses and/or contact lenses with you. Also, bring along records of your previous care, including information about treatments and surgeries.

The exam begins with a review of your medical history. Once this is completed, a member of the clinic’s staff will test your vision; check the pressure in your eyes; examine your eyes for cataracts, corneal clarity, glaucoma, tumors, and retinal disease, and address any other concerns or problems. Because a thorough exam takes time, plan to spend 1-3 hours at the clinic. If you wish, you may have a friend or relative join you in the exam room.

Your doctor may need to dilate your pupils during the process to get a better look at the inside of your eyes. If so, you will receive eye drops that will make your eyes sensitive to light and may make reading or doing close work difficult. Because the drops take 20 to 40 minutes to work, you may wish to bring a radio with headphones to help you pass the time. Your eyes will stay dilated for three to six hours, so you may need to wear sunglasses when leaving the building. Although the clinic can provide free, disposable sunglasses, you may wish to bring your own. The drops do not affect your distance vision. However, you may wish to take part of the day off work and arrange for a ride home.

After the exam, your doctor will explain the findings and may refer you to a specialist within the clinic. Because our doctors are also teachers, they believe in preventive education. Along with learning the results of tests, you’ll learn to detect early signs of eye problems. In addition, your doctor will set up a schedule for follow-up visits.

Most surgical procedures, including outpatient procedures such as cataract removal and refractive corneal surgery, are performed at nearby UW Hospital and Clinics or Madison Surgical Center. Our staff can arrange for your visit.

Your Insurance Coverage

Many UW Health Eye Clinic services are covered by health insurance. You may wish to check your policy or speak with your insurance provider before your visit to determine which ones are covered. If you are an HMO member, please make sure you have prior authorization before arriving at the clinic if your HMO requires it. The UW Health Eye Clinic accepts Medicare assignment, which means Medicare pays 80 percent of the fee.

Whatever your coverage, please be sure to bring your insurance and/or Medicare card with you. If you have questions about insurance or billing, please call the hospital billing office at (608) 262-2221.

Making an Appointment

You may make an appointment by calling the location nearest you.


If you have an emergency, call (608) 263-7171. If you phone after clinic hours, your call will be answered by the UW Hospital and Clinics paging operator who will connect you with the physician on duty.

General Inquiries (non UW-Health Related) — © 2016 Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System