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I've gotten a lot of email and posts from people under the impression that I'm somehow anti-optometrist, or that I'm against the practice of getting your eyes examined. This certainly isn't the case.

What I am advocating is, separate the optometry from the retail side of things. There is no reason that the person checking my eyes should see any financial benefit from my prescription (and no I don't buy that "independent optometrist" housed inside the LensCrafters is truly independent). I go to an ophthalmologist who isn't (in any visible way at least) affiliated with an optical store -- and I have to wait weeks to get an appointment. That's the way it should be (except maybe the "weeks" part).

Do you want your police officers to own jails? Do you want your presidents (and vice presidents) to own stock in oil companies and defense contractors?

If you need quick eyeglasses, you're screwed. My suggestion? Keep your eyes in check, keep a valid prescription handy, and buy a cheap "reserve pair" from one of the decent on-line places. You'll be glad to have them when you feel your current pair snap under the weight of your ample rear end.

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At November 28, 2006 at 7:25 PM Unknown said...

Does your ophthalmologist do the actual refraction (one part of the comprehensive exam, that helps to arrive at the prescription)? Or is it done by a tech? Do you know what type of training either of them had in actually determining a prescription?

At November 29, 2006 at 1:05 AM Ira said...

None of this information was attached to my prescription. My ophthalmologist wasn't wearing a t-shirt with his qualifications either.

I had my eyes checked once at a mall store, out of desperation, while I was out of town and my glasses were lost. Every other time it's been the full work-up with an ophthalmologist.

At December 8, 2006 at 6:21 PM Anonymous said...

I'm not sure that you're really seeing the whole eyecare picture.

An optometrist is a medical doctor who is specially trained to conduct medical examinations of eyes and create prescriptions.

An opthamologist is a medical doctor who is specially trained to diagnose diseases and medical conditions of the eye. They also conduct eye surgery.

If you've had a regular eye exam, including refraction, it's likely that it was done by an optometrist, not an opthamologist (unless you specifically know that you went to an opthamologist).

The last piece of the puzzle, however, is the optician. Opticians are specially trained (and required to be certified in many states, but not all) to measure distance between eyes, adjust fit of glasses, etc., so that when your glasses are ordered from the lab (or the optician actually makes the glasses for you) the prescription lines up properly between the lens and the eye.

If you're purchasing prescription glasses online, sure, you're saving money, but there's a high chance that the glasses are not going to be properly fit for your eyes and face. I know that to the average person, that doesn't seem like a huge deal, but it can make all the difference. Opticians are usually much more knowledgeable in the areas of lens design, material, coatings, features of various eyewear, etc., than the average optometrist is. Most optometrists have a difficult time fitting glasses because that it not the focus of their training, not to mention they do not have the time since they're usually wrapped up seeing patients.

If you have any of the normal anomoles that most human faces have (i.e. one ear sits lower than the other, pupillary distance is shorter or longer than average), glasses you get online that are created by a lab that has never seen you, that does not have your specific facial measurements, are very likely not going to be as satisfying for you as glasses that you've actually been fitted for would be.

No, I don't work for any eyecare professional, and I never have. I'm the wife of an optician, I wear glasses, and I can tell you firsthand that you need BOTH a good optometrist AND a good optician in order to get the best fit and most benefit from your eyewear.

If you are ever concerned about the level of training an optician has, look to see if "ABCO" is behind their name, as in "Joe Blow, ABCO". Opticians certified by the American Board of Certified Opticians will have this title. Likewise, those certified to work with contact lenses will have "NCLE" for National Contact Lens Examiners.

At December 8, 2006 at 9:16 PM Anonymous said...

Amen, brother. I left an optometrist about three years ago because he *freaked out* when I asked for a hard-copy of my prescription to get contact lenses somewhere else. And when I say "freaked out," I mean he became agitated and increasingly hostile. I found out later that the prescription he had given me was for contacts that have a warning on 1-800-CONTACTS--that optometrists get a significant kickback from prescribing (and one would assume selling) that brand. I'm going to a different guy now, but you'd better believe he gave me the same weird brand on my newest prescription. It's extremely disturbing--why should I pay $80 for contacts I can get for $45 somewhere else?

At December 9, 2006 at 11:37 AM Meredith said...

I've bought several pairs of glasses at stores (both at LensCrafters and at the store connected to my eye doctor), and have never been measured as mellowknees describes. If they are not going to provide this service, why should I pay for it?

At December 11, 2006 at 1:24 AM Unknown said...

Meredith said...

I've bought several pairs of glasses at stores (both at LensCrafters and at the store connected to my eye doctor), and have never been measured as mellowknees describes.

I'm curious now -- has anyone actually received a comprehensive head-measure at an retail optical dispensary? I, like Meredith, have never heard of or experienced such a thing in my life.

The closest thing to individual fitting of the glasses that I have ever encountered is the dispensary staff bending the frames or adjusting the screws to modify the fit.

Newsflash: I can use a screwdriver too. And I don't charge myself several hundred dollars for the privilege.

An optometrist provides a genuine professional service. Their time is worth the ~$200 an hour they charge. A retail shop assistant, on the other hand? Why should I pay a $300+ markup for maybe 15 minutes of their time?

I think there are a huge number of commenters on this blog who cannot tell the difference between an optometrist (someone who is unquestionably essential in making sure your prescription is right for you) and a retail salesperson (who a competent person with a basic prescription does not need).

At February 22, 2007 at 9:59 PM Anonymous said...

I have never once in 35 years of glasses wearing had the optician experience implied in mellowknees post. Seriously. Even the pair I got when I was 7 had to be adjusted by my Daddy to fit properly.

At April 16, 2007 at 7:07 AM Anonymous said...

If you don't want your optometrist to be affiliated with an optical, be prepared to pay a LOT more for your exe exams. Right now, insurance companies reimburse peanuts for an exam ($20 sometimes). If they are to keep the office doors open and pay a staff, look to spend at least $150 per eye exam. That's before you even get any glasses or contacts.


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