Thursday, June 17, 2004

Lens prescriptions

I just learned that Congress passed a law that went into effect this year requiring optometrists to release contact lens presriptions upon request. Good. There was a loophole in California law where optometrists were required to release eyeglass prescriptions, and to release medical records, but they weren't required to release signed prescriptions that an optician could fill.

You can order contact lenses online, but the vendors are supposed to ask for some sort of proof of prescription. I just tried, so I'll soon see how well it works.

Update: The new law is described as a win-win here, but the NY Times explains that the online lens merchants are losing sales. It appears that the online merchants were doing much of their business by selling refills for expired prescriptions, and the new law requires them to validate the prescription. Furthermore, patients in only 8 states are allowed to have 2-year prescriptions, and everyone else is limited to 1-year prescriptions. So the law is actually a big windfall for optometrists, because everyone has to go get an eye exam every year.

Hardly anyone needs a new eye exam once a year. I am considering posting instructions on how to forge prescriptions.

George writes:
That would be forgery. Are you suggesting that people break the law just to some contact lenses for a few buck cheaper?
No, I don't think that it is against the law for a consumer to forge documents in order to get lenses for himself. Here is the 2004 federal law and the similar 2003 California law. Here are the 2003 House hearings for the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act.

The law requires prescribers to issue written prescriptions, and lens sellers to verify those prescriptions. It says that sellers cannot advertise that they are selling lenses without prescriptions. It says that the law can be enforced by the FTC and by California courts. California law says that optometrists and lens sellers have to be licensed, and misconduct can result in discipline or loss of license.

There are other California laws against forging government documents, and against presenting false documents to someone for the purpose of cheating him out of money. But I don't see anything in California or federal law against a consumer buying lenses with false documents. Nor do I think that these laws were intended to impose any penalties on consumers who just want to buy lenses for themselves.

There are several good reasons for modifying a prescription. One is buying replacement lenses after the 1-year expiration. Another is to get more choice. Optometrists do not want to spend the time explaining the many different types of lenses available, and the various trade-offs, so they just write the prescription for what they think is best. By taking control of the prescription, you can get what you want. Third, if you know a little bit about how lenses work, you can bypass the optometrist altogether. Unless your eyes have some unusual problems, it is pretty simple.

1 comment:

gangstarida said...

Holla at ya boi, f u eye "doctors". u jus want to puff some shiz in my eye and charge me a bill. I know my eyes what they need is new lenzes, not some govt tellin me to pay doctors. I think it's worse to have some ppl wearing old deteriorating lenses, than to have them make their contact choices. Granted they should be informed choices, but, this just shows the govt. doesn't trust it's citizens.