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Having trouble getting your contact lens prescription from your eye care provider?

Eye care providers are required by law to give contact lens prescriptions to patients when the fitting process is complete. While this requirement is generally understood, recognize there can be bad actors in any industry. While this situation can be perplexing, the reason is simple: unlike your family doctor, most eye doctors sell what they prescribe (see chart). Therefore, some believe withholding your prescription will force you to purchase contact lenses from them. Here is some information that might help:

  File a Complaint
Be Savvy Know the Law What is ethical behavior

Know the common practices that some eye care providers use to prevent you from getting your prescription. For instance:

Giving Out Eyeglass Prescriptions Instead of Contact Lens Prescriptions
Make sure you have a contact lens prescription, not an eyeglass prescription. A prescription for disposable contact lenses will always include the brand name of the contacts. If your prescription does not, check with your eye care professional.

The Waiver
Some eye care providers will have you sign a waiver to receive your prescription. This practice is illegal and can be used as a scare tactic to make you think you are doing something wrong. Does your family doctor make you sign a waiver to get your medicine from a pharmacy? You don't have to sign anything.

"I can't release, the fitting process is not over"
Some eye care providers may tell you they can not release your prescription to you because you have not completed the fitting process. This is normal for new wearers or when getting fitted with a new type or brand of lens, but it is not normal for consumers who are wearing the same lenses as before and only need a refill. It is also not supposed to be used as a reason for withholding your prescription. Under the new federal law your prescription is good for a minimum of 1 year. Most importantly, this one year time period is from the date your eye care provider gives you a copy of your prescription - not from the date of your examination.

The One Year Myth
Some eye care providers tell you that they cannot issue an expiration date of more than one year. This is not true. One year is a minimum, not a maximum. You should discuss your wearing habits and eye health with your eye care provider to determine if you can have a longer prescription length.

The Sales Call
After receiving a prescription confirmation call from a mail order contact lens supplier, some doctors will call you. Instead of acting like a health care professional and complying with the verification request, some eye care providers will attempt to pressure you into buying your contact lenses directly from them. Some eye care providers will tell you that ordering direct by phone or Internet is illegal, or that the contacts are not as good as what the eye care provider sells. This practice is unethical and improper. These false statements are intended to discourage you from ordering through alternate retailers and could create legal liability. You have the right to get your prescription filled wherever you choose, without unnecessary or unsolicited pressure from your eye care provider.

Come Pick Up Your Rx
You may be told that the eye care provider cannot release your prescription to you or anyone else over the phone or by fax. Not true. This is just a way to get you into their store. By law, prescriptions can be transmitted in hard copy or by any electronic means.

Already Released, Can't Do It Again
You have a right to your prescription whenever you want it.

Charging to Release
Some eye care providers may attempt to charge a fee for prescription release. This illegal practice is simply a way to discourage you from going somewhere else to buy your lenses.

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