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Get a New Eye Doctor

Prescription GlassesThe first time I asked an eye doctor for my daughter’s prescription, he balked. As if my own child’s eyeglass requirements were some kind of trade secret that I had no right to see.

The bottom line was that this was about his bottom line, not about what was best for my daughter. Like soda at a restaurant or popcorn at a theater, selling eyewear — with the suggested retail markup — was a huge revenue stream for doctors of optometry. With online eyewear providers cutting into their profit, some eye doctors were wary and some just belligerent.

The truth is, however, you pay the doctor for his services in checking, diagnosing, and treating eye problems. You aren’t obligated to pay him for the products used any more than you would be obligated pay your general practitioner for your medication.

In an effort to keep eyewear purchases “in house,” some eye doctors are refusing to give the PD (pupillary distance: the distance, center to center, between your eyes) to online eye wear providers — even though these patients have not only given permission, but requested that the information be provided.

This is unacceptable and unethical. Your doctor isn’t your superior, you are his customer. You are patronizing his establishment. He should treat you like the good customer you are. And if you want to shout the information you paid him to discover from the rooftops, that’s nobody’s business but your own.

We buy our eyeglasses online because we can get the exact same glasses for about half of what we can get elsewhere. We also have the option of buying other brands that aren’t available at the doctor’s office. This is best for us.

If your doctor thinks your personal medical information is his proprietary information, it’s time to get a new doctor. Find one who really has your best interest at heart.

Note: Yes, I know there are female optometrists and ophthamalogists. Honest. I just haven’t personally been to one.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Lisa June 24, 2010, 4:28 pm


    We had to deal with this just Tuesday. Every time we go for our annual eye check-up, the office staff tries to coerce us into purchasing glasses in-house. The funny thing is they send out orders for their glasses which take just as long to arrive as the ones I order online and are 7 x the price of the online glasses I purchase at zennioptical, 39dollarglasses and eyebuydirect. We get 4 pair of glasses for less than $100, including the higher-index lenses recommended by our pediatrician.

    With multiple kids in glasses and the costs incurred financially, it’s just not worth dealing with the snootiness and the grief I get at the neighborhood eye clinic anymore. Wal-Mart has always been helpful with repairs and PD measurements, even on internet purchased glasses. Perhaps I ought to print off your blog entry, request our records and take our business there.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 25, 2010, 12:57 pm

    Lisa, thanks for commenting. Honestly, I would definitely take my business to the place that best servers your family. You are a client, not a hostage!

  • Tia March 14, 2011, 4:40 pm

    It’s a shame that there are so many doctors out there that discredit the good nature and practice of those who are really in it for the medicine. In the current economy, you would think that your doctor would be more understanding the costs, especially for your child who will grow out of their eye wear. So how does a person know what to look for so they don’t become a “hostage”?

  • rolland elliott June 7, 2011, 10:15 am

    “some eye doctors are refusing to give the PD (pupillary distance: the distance, center to center, between your eyes) to online eye wear providers ”

    You can just measure it with a ruler in front of a mirror.

    If you are extra sped thrift buy an eye exam chart and a measuring tape and you can come up with your own eyeglass prescription.

    Amazing what doctors charge for stuff you can do yourself.

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