Relf EyeCare Specialists Answer the
Most Common Questions


What is the difference between an Optometrist and an Ophthalmologist?

An Optometrist is a licensed Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) who has completed 4 years’ postgraduate training in the vision sciences. Optometrists are trained to provide a comprehensive eye exam, diagnosing and treating a broad range of conditions ranging from refractive errors (nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism) to vision-threatening problems such as cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy. Optometrists also perform minor surgical procedures such as foreign body removal.

An Ophthalmologist is a Medical Doctor (M.D.) who specializes in eye and vision care. Ophthalmologists are trained to provide the full spectrum of eye care including surgical procedures such as LASIK, cataract surgery, glaucoma surgery, and surgery of the eyelids.

The Relf EyeCare team includes two Optometrists and three Ophthalmologists, each possessing unique skills and talents. All doctors are certified by the American Board of Ophthalmologists or the American Board of Optometry. We work closely as a team, collaborating in our work to achieve the very best visual outcomes for our patients.

How do I know if I need an Optometrist or an Ophthalmologist?

Visit Relf EyeCare for a comprehensive eye exam with any one of our doctors. The results of your initial exam will then dictate a recommended course of action. We will be sure that you see the doctor best suited to your needs.

Is Relf EyeCare accepting new patients?

Yes. Relf EyeCare and Relf Optical recently expanded into a new facility in order to accommodate new patients. A new Optometrist and a growing support staff now allow us to better meet the growing needs of our community.

Where is Relf EyeCare Specialists located?

Our new expanded facility is conveniently located at 4413 Air Base Road in Hermantown, easily accessed from both Arrowhead Road and Stebner Road. Ample free parking is available.

Can anyone make an eye appointment or do I have to have a referral?

Anyone is welcome to make an eye appointment. Some insurance plans require a referral from your primary doctor. Please call us at 720-3553 to schedule an appointment and our staff will be happy to assist you if your insurance plan requires a referral.

Does the Relf facility have wheelchair access?

Yes, our new facility is fully ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant. This means that all doors, hallways, exam rooms, etc. are readily accessible to all. In addition, we have a number of wheelchairs located inside the front doors, for general use. We also have automatic door openers which provide a safe entrance for those using walkers and wheelchairs. There is plenty of free parking with designated handicapped parking spaces adjacent to the front door.

How long will a thorough eye exam last?

A comprehensive eye exam will typically take 60 to 90 minutes. Since your eyes will be dilated, sunglasses may be comfortable on your way home; a complementary pair can be provided.

Do I need to bring anything with me for an initial eye exam?

Yes. Please bring the following items: insurance information, referral letter (if needed), current prescription lenses, glasses and contact lenses, a list of current medications including eye drops, and the name of your primary care physician.

How can I find out if my insurance is accepted? Do you accept Medicare?

Relf EyeCare Specialists participates in Medicare, Minnesota Medical Assistance, and many commercial insurance plans including, but not limited to the following:

  • Blue Cross/Blue Shield
  • Health Partners
  • Medica
  • Preferred One
  • UCare

While we submit claims to your insurance carrier on your behalf, it is the insured party’s responsibility, however, to understand the coverage provided by your specific plan. Some insurance plans may require a co-pay. If so, this will be collected at registration.

Does Relf EyeCare offer emergency services?

Yes, Relf EyeCare Specialists’ physicians participate in Emergency Room coverage at all Duluth Hospitals. An ophthalmologist is available to our patients and members of our community for emergency care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In case of an eye-related emergency, call our office at 218.720.3553. Our phones are answered 24/7.

Do you sell eyewear?

Absolutely. Relf EyeCare Specialists’ eye doctors and Relf Optical are conveniently located in the same building. Visit Relf Optical today to see a full line of the latest fashions, including sunwear and sportswear. Style for every taste and budget!

If my prescription for glasses or contacts is from Relf EyeCare Specialists, am I obligated to purchase my frames from Relf Optical?

Fitting new frames or contact lenses is part of the total eye care process. Relf EyeCare and Relf Optical work in concert to provide the best eye care solution for your specific needs. Our optical staff is professional, well-trained, and experienced. They bring quality and creativity to the eyewear selection and fitting process.

Although you are free to fill your prescription wherever you like, we find that our Relf EyeCare patients uniformly achieve great results when working with Relf Optical.

I have a prescription for glasses or contacts. Can Relf Optical fill it?

Yes. Your prescription can be filled at Relf Eyecare. We are happy to assist you with all of your eyewear needs, regardless of the prescribing doctor. However, we cannot guarantee any work that is done with a prescription that is over one year old. If your prescription is more than one year old, please call our office before you order your contacts or glasses.

How do I access the patient portal?

Relf EyeCare Specialists is excited to offer a patient portal to our patients. If interested in gaining access to the Relf EyeCare patient portal to review your medical records, you will need to be provided a login and password from a Relf EyeCare Specialists representative. Upon check-in for a visit, the front desk staff will ask if you are interested in access to the Relf EyeCare patient portal. Login and password information will be provided at that time. Patients are also able to contact Relf EyeCare Specialists at 218-720-3553 to request access.

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