Are Eye Doctors Seeing Things Correctly? - Smart Vision Labs

Are Eye Doctors Seeing Things Correctly?

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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Color Blindness Explained - Smart Vision Labs

The Shades of Color Blindness

Do you remember “The Dress?” People were agonizing over whether it was blue and black or white and gold. What did you think it was?

This photo made a lot of people think about the eyes and specifically why we see colors. It also made many of us wonder if we have a vision defect and are not seeing colors as they really are.

The Science of Color Blindness

On a purely physical basis, being able to see color involves a few special parts of the eyes called photoreceptors. The two main types are rods and cones and they are named after their respective shapes. Both are located at the back of the eyes and each has a specific function.

After light reaches the eyes, these photoreceptors create electrical signals that ‘tell’ the brain what color the eyes are seeing. Rods help us see in lower light and the images will be mostly black and white depending on the darkness around you. Cones are what allow us to see in color and they need bright light to work well. The three types of cones enable us to see the main colors: red, green and blue.

Sometimes a genetic defect can make one or more of the cones not work properly. This condition is often called color blindness and affects about nine percent of the population. Men are usually more affected than women.

When is Color Blindness a Problem?

People with color vision deficiency often report that this condition is frustrating but not severely problematic. For instance, some of the milder problems associated with this impairment involve wearing mismatched clothing or eating unripe bananas since a green and yellow banana are both shades of the same color to them.

Differentiating between the red and green of a traffic light can be difficult but this can be easily solved by noticing where the bulb is lit up since red is always at the top. Another problem is undercooking meat since the red color may not be easily distinguished.

Overall, being color blind is not considered a disability; rather it is a vision problem that may be improved through special lenses that enhance color perception.

What Color is the Dress?

The dress is blue and black but the bluish tint in the photo changes a person’s perception of the dress’s true color. That’s why the black part looks gold and the blue part looks white.

The reason why people see the dress differently is based on their individual sensitivity to the blue lighting in the photo. Our individual visual system decides if the blue illumination is either more or less reflective on the dress. By discounting the blue, you would see a white and gold dress.

Are Seeing Colors Purely Arbitrary?

Although there is a biological process for determining the presence of color in the things around us, there is also a level of physical interpretation involved. The electrical signals from the cones to the brain can be ‘wrong’ if one or more of the cones are not functioning properly. In that case, the person may not see the true color, but a shade of it or none of it. Sometimes color blindness is only present in dim light, with the person seeing colors correctly in brighter conditions. A vision exam can help diagnose this condition and make you aware of it.

And the next time someone asks you if the dress is blue and black or white and gold, you will have a better understanding of why you see it as you do.

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Why does my vision keep getting worse? - Smart Vision Labs

Why Does My Vision Keep Getting Worse?

It can be discouraging when your vision exam results show you need a stronger prescription. This is especially true if you are careful to always wear your glasses when you need them, whether it is just while reading or all the time. After an exam, hearing that your vision is now worse isn’t the news you were hoping for.

Don’t get upset and blame your glasses though. There are many reasons why your eyes don’t see quite as well as they did at your last vision test. And none of them have to do with your glasses.

Growing Up…

The eyes change shape in order to focus incoming light on the correct spot on the retina. However, children’s eyeballs are still small and aren’t finished growing to their full adult size yet. This limits the flexibility of the eye and inhibits its ability to focus. It is fairly common for children to be farsighted because of this. As their bodies and eyes grow, their near vision can actually improve.

Vision changes due to eye growth are more apparent if they are wearing eyeglasses already. The continued development of the eyes in children means they will also need to update their prescription eyeglasses more often than an adult. Their lenses may become too weak even within a few months if they are going through a growth spurt.

…or Growing Old

Aging again becomes a factor in deteriorating vision after age 40. As you get older, along with the rest of your body, your eyes lose elasticity which weakens their ability to focus. In order to see objects close up, the eyes contract and the lens thickens, which makes the lens of the eye more convex. The reduced elasticity due to aging makes it more difficult for your eyes to shape themselves properly to look at things near to them, like when reading a book. Because the eye can’t compensate for this, corrective lenses are needed.

Tiredness and Eye Strain

Sometimes, weak vision is temporary. Blurry vision that goes away on its own may be caused by eye strain, not an out-of-date prescription. Noticing that your eyes feel tired, itchy, too dry, or too watery are some other signs. When doing something strenuous for your eyes, such as using a computer, taking frequent breaks about every 20 minutes to focus your eyes on something else will relieve the stress.

It’s Not Your Glasses

A common myth is that wearing glasses will make your eyes weaker. The idea behind this is that, because the lenses are doing the focusing work, your eyes can become “out of shape” due to lack of practice resulting in becoming dependent on the glasses to see at all.

It is actually because your eyes are (literally) out of shape that you need vision correction in the first place. Common vision problems, like near or far-sightedness, are caused by the shape of your eyeball being too long or too short which prevents the incoming light from focusing on the correct spot in your eye. All the eyeglass lenses are doing is redirecting the light where it needs to go, depending on what vision issue you have.

If you need vision correction for something like astigmatism, leaving your glasses at home will not make your eyes work harder at fixing it. They will, in fact, work harder which will leave you suffering the effects of eye strain.

So, don’t be discouraged at your next vision exam. Prescription eyeglasses are not an indication that your eyes are failing; consider them a way to lend a helping hand to your eyes.

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