No, this isn’t about whether your eye doctor has 20/20 vision and is therefore physically qualified to examine you. (Although that might be a good topic!) This is about your eye doctor ‘seeing’ the law when it comes to obeying the consumer protection guidelines.

Let’s Look at the Eyeglass Rule

The federal law states:

  • Your eye doctor must give you one copy of your eyeglasses prescription immediately after the vision exam.
  • Your eye doctor must not make the eye exam conditional upon you buying glasses or contacts from that establishment.
  • You may not be charged an additional fee for receiving your prescription.
  • You do not have to sign a waiver disclaiming the liability of the eye doctor and the diagnosis of your eyes’ condition if you choose purchase glasses or contacts elsewhere.

Let’s Look at the Contact Lens Rule

This federal law states:

  • The patient shall receive a copy of the prescription without incurring an additional charge for it.
  • The patient does not need to sign a waiver or release after receiving the prescription to remove any liability of the eye doctor.

Basically, whether you wear corrective glasses or contact lenses, you are entitled to a copy of your prescription after your vision exam. It’s the law.

Why FTC May be on the Eye Chart

While the standard eye chart with the large letter E at the top will not be redesigned to include the letters FTC, the Federal Trade Commission will indeed be keeping a closer eye on vision exams. That’s because many eye doctors are deliberately ignoring these consumer protection laws.

The laws are meant to benefit the patients and give them freedom of choice when purchasing corrective glasses or contacts. No one should have to purchase eye-wear from the place where they had their vision exam except if they choose to do so. Many people like to shop around and compare prices and these consumer laws protect that decision.

To better enforce this, the FTC has made a proposal that would require a patient to sign and acknowledge that they received a copy of their contact lens prescription. The eye doctors would be required to keep their signed forms on file for three years.

Additionally the FTC has another provision that encourages the use of Internet portals whereby patients could get a copy of their prescription online. The portal would be password-protected to ensure security and the patient’s right to privacy, but would also provide easy accessibility to this important information.

Interestingly, while reviewing the current compliance of eye doctors concerning contact lens prescriptions, the government agency did not find any increased risk for the patient if they bought contact lenses from other retailers. This is additional encouragement and motivation for patients to shop around and purchase their corrective eye-wear from a place that will also fit into their financial budgets.

Nearsighted Eye Doctor?

You won’t need to give your eye doctor a vision test to determine a nearsighted condition. If the doctor wants to keep your purchase ‘near’ (as in you must buy glasses or contacts in the place where you got your exam) then you may be best served by requesting your prescription so you can shop elsewhere.

The law is the law and there is really only one way to ‘see’ it.

Editor’s note: When you take a Smart Vision Exam you have access to your contact lens or eyeglass prescription through our telemedicine platform. 

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