Do I Have a Right to My Prescription?
Connie Jacklitsch planned to save money by ordering her contact lenses online. Instead, the New York City woman has been spending unnecessary time and effort just trying to get a copy of her prescription.
Jacklitsch had an eye exam and contact lens fitting last summer. The doctor wanted to charge me $425 to $450 for lenses which cost about $200 when I order them online. So I asked for a copy of my prescription for contact lenses, she explained.
She never got it. So she asked the company from which she planned to order the contacts to call the doctor directly. But the doctor’s office ignored that request, too.
I went to another eye doctor and asked her to get my contact fitting specifications from the first doctor. The first doctor told her he doesn’t give out that information and hung up. Needless to say, I was dumbfounded and so was she, Jacklitsch said.
Federal law requires optometrists and ophthalmologists give patients a copy of their contact lens and eyeglass prescriptions after an exam or contact fitting free of charge, even if the patient doesn’t ask for it. In New York State, a contact lens prescription is valid for one year from the date it was written.
In addition to providing contact-lens patients with their prescription, the rules require eye care practitioners to verify prescriptions to third-party sellers on request. The law gives practitioners eight business hours to respond to prescription requests from retailers.
However, it also protects consumers from practitioners who refuse to verify prescriptions. Retailers can consider a prescription as verified if an eye examiner fails to respond to the request on time.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t help someone who doesn’t know her contact lens specifications, which may happen when a prescription changes.
In that case, the best option is to file a complaint with state regulators.
In New York, you can contact the Office of Professional Medical Conduct at 1-800-663-6114 with complaints about ophthalmologists. Contact the State Education Department, Office of Professional Discipline, at 1-800-442-8106 with complaints about optometrists.