How can I circumvent a crazy doctor?
September 17, 2009 3:15 PM   Subscribe

Can I go around my crazy eye doctor and get the glasses and contacts I need?

I have a horrible eye doctor who is doing everything possible to not give me my eye presciption. Total bullies, brazenly overpriced, and it was reconfirmed for me today in my most recent visit. Unfortunately, as I have terrible eyesight combined with an empty wallet, I am in a tough position. I need some hive mind advice, if you can follow this.

After some cajoling, yelling, whining (all on their part) I was able to pull from their cold fingers my a) current eyeglasses prescription and b) my last year's contact prescription.

So I am very nearsighted in both eyes, plus I have severe astigmatism. What I use to function is
a) a standard set of strong eyeglasses, then
b) soft contact lenses
c) with eyeglasses over them to correct the astigmatism.

Here is my question: using my current eyeglass prescription, along with the base curve from last year's contact prescription, can I order new contacts by combining the new prescription with last year's base curve? Or does a base curve change much?

*PS I know the alternative is to go back and get my damn prescription, and I will do so if necessary. I really just want to know if I can do the above and have the satisfaction of never dealing with these creeps again.
posted by RajahKing to Health & Fitness (22 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Don't know if you want new eyeglasses, but check out They may sell contacts, but they do have cheap eyeglasses -- got mine for under $30.
posted by printchick at 3:26 PM on September 17, 2009

And yeah -- change eye doctors.
posted by printchick at 3:26 PM on September 17, 2009

I don't understand why you can't just go to another doctor and get a new prescription.
posted by desjardins at 3:51 PM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Glasses are not a regulated drug. Look up the web log "Glassy Eyes" for a guy who reviews online glasses retailers. You can get a pair with decent options on your doorstep for $50. Spend your normal cost and get like four pairs.

Now, you will need your prescription. Phone your doctor and ask then to fax it or read it to you. The information is yours once you pay for the visit, and they can't legally (in most states?) refuse to give it to you.

Left eye = O.S. Right Eye = O.D.
posted by cmiller at 3:54 PM on September 17, 2009 [2 favorites]

I don't know what the eye doctor market is like where you are, but go to a new one and explicitly state you want your eyes checked and you want a copy of your prescription. If your eyesight is changing then you do want something recent if you're going to invest in new ware.

Then go and order your glasses and contacts on line. I've used and been very happy.

Blogger gives a narrative on one US gent's search for cheaper glasses.
posted by jjderooy at 3:55 PM on September 17, 2009

You should also get your PD or pupilary distance, for ordering glasses online. This is often left off a prescription.
posted by jjderooy at 3:56 PM on September 17, 2009

By law, he has to give it to you. Don't call on the phone, it's easier for him to dick you around that way; just show up at his office and demand it (politely). He'll give it to you and you should never have to deal with him again.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 3:59 PM on September 17, 2009

I usually buy my contacts through online sites like 1-800-contacts. When you place your order, there is an area to fill in your doctor's information (name and phone number) and they will call them and get the prescription information for you. You don't have to deal with the doctor at all. The prescription is yours...they have to give it up.
posted by fresh-rn at 4:05 PM on September 17, 2009

Here's a link to the Fairness To Contact Lens Consumer Act. If he doesn't comply, you can file a complaint right there online.

If you really don't want to deal with him any more, just stop by some other eyeglasses shop when they're not busy and ask if they'll measure your pupilary distance.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 4:08 PM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

New eye doctor. Go! Yeah you already paid and don't want to pay for another exam, but if this guy is such a nutjob, do you really trust him to have the prescription right? And contacts are even harder to fit properly. Go get a real eye exam from someone who knows what they are doing. Tell them up front you want a copy of your prescription and any good office will gladly comply. If they have an issue with this, run far away. The price of another eye exam is small compared to what you could spend on glasses and contacts that are wrong, and given this guy's behavior, I don't see a refund in your future if there's a problem. Go get it done right by someone you trust.

Also, you may find the old book When I Say No I Feel Guilty to be useful. It's basically a how-to manual for saying "No. I need this year's contact lens prescription" and not leaving until you get it, although I recall that he gives a couple of tactics to use. Not saying you've got an assertiveness issue by any means (I hate dealing with people like that too), just think it's applicable and interesting.
posted by zachlipton at 4:31 PM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Most online retailers will take your order with the information you have, but require verification either through a faxed copy of the current prescription or by actually calling your doctor's office. Not sure if the doctor's office would dick the online retailer around.

That said, people recommend online sites all the time for glasses, but I personally would never buy from a place not fitting me in person and using very high-quality, super high index lenses. (My prescription is around -10.25, which is bad, but probably not as bad as yours.)
posted by lunalaguna at 4:42 PM on September 17, 2009

Just to add to lunalaguna's tangent. I agree buying online feels like a bit of a gamble, although there are plenty of people reporting happy results. For me, its the option of spending A$2-400 on a pair of glasses in person, or gambling A$40-50 on an online pair that may be great or I may end up donating to charity. Has been worth it so far.
posted by jjderooy at 5:16 PM on September 17, 2009

The base curve on my contacts has not changed for the past 10 years. (Small power changes). I believe that the base curve is the curve of your eyeball* (IANA Eye Doc). You should be able to attach a copy of your prescription to the order at 1800contacts or wherever you order.
posted by defcom1 at 5:18 PM on September 17, 2009

Even going to an overpriced chain, an eye exam is like $60. Just take it elsewhere... seriously. Don't guesstimate on something that important to your day to day existence.
posted by shownomercy at 6:02 PM on September 17, 2009

OK wait, this is getting a little complicated.

The information is yours. You paid for a service. You should not need to pay for another, and $60 is a lot of money to pay out for an extra, totally unneccesary eye exam when you're broke.

You have your current eyeglasses prescription, so you are set for glasses, yes? 1-800-CONTACTS or whatever can pry the contact info out of them when you order, making this totally not your problem.

Is that everything you need? Or do you need (and not have) an adjusted eyeglass prescription to use with your contacts?
posted by DarlingBri at 6:45 PM on September 17, 2009

I don't understand why you don't just go to some place like Binyon's, get an exam (sometimes free if you order from them or not that expensive if not). Get your scrip and go to 1-800 contacts or one of the other suggestions above.

Is there an insurance issue? I don't get why you don't just go somewhere else.
posted by Bueller at 6:47 PM on September 17, 2009

If your scrip is over a year old, though, the online contact places won't fill it. So don't wait!
posted by nosila at 7:19 PM on September 17, 2009

I'm not sure from your post whether you know this - the diopter numbers for your contact prescription will be different than for your glasses because contact lenses sit in a different place relative to your eye.
posted by needs more cowbell at 7:47 PM on September 17, 2009

I have a horrible eye doctor who is doing everything possible to not give me my eye presciption.

You need to find out who regulates eye doctors in your state. Search "[your state] optometry board" to start, verify that the law requires your eye doctor to provide you with your full prescription on request (hint: IT DOES), then bitch the fucking hell out of your soon-to-be-ex-shitty eye doctor until you get it.
posted by mediareport at 9:40 PM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Okay, after reading your answers, I realize I am just going to head back in and get my prescription, and I will get it filled at another office or online. Thanks everyone.

I also clearly don't know enough about the way prescriptions work, cause I had no idea that the diopeter numbers would be different and thought maybe I could "figure it out" using what I have, like MacGyver.
posted by RajahKing at 6:50 AM on September 18, 2009

If you can't get your RX and you paid for a recent exam with a credit card, you can dispute the charge on the basis that they wouldn't give you your RX. Take advantage of that 2-month window you get with a credit card to give yourself some leverage when you need it.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 2:46 PM on September 18, 2009

I really like the glasses I got from Zenni. I hear their service can kinda suck, and they really take their time in getting your glasses out to you, but I've been really happy with the glasses I got from them (plus, they were $20 shipped).

Also: Prescription sunglasses!
posted by buriednexttoyou at 4:36 PM on September 18, 2009

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