Recourse with bad eyeglasses prescription
December 3, 2013 1:30 PM   Subscribe

My optometrist wrote me an unwearable prescription. What recourse do I have?

I had new glasses made to a new prescription by an independent local optician (not affiliated with with the prescribing optometrist). The glasses are not working for me; althought the "crispness" is high, I have a lot of difficulty focusing and with depth perception, and they are causing severe eyestrain and mild headaches. I understand that it can take some time to get used to a new prescription (I have been wearing glasses since I was in grade school) but this is unlike anything I've experienced in the past and it has not gotten better after a week.

I have gone back to both the optometrist and the optician. Naturally, each is convinced it is the other's fault.

The optometrist stands by his prescription after additional testing with the phoropter. He thinks that the optician got the vertical optical center of the lenses wrong. However, I have confirmed that the optical center is in the very same place as it was on the two previous pairs of lenses that this optician has made for me (all three sets of lenses went into identical frames), which were fine.

The optician thinks that the problem is that the new prescription has a +0.75 spherical correction on the right eye and a plano (0.00 correction) on the left eye, where my old prescription had a +0.75 spherical correction for both eyes. He thinks that the imbalance is causing my issues. He held lenses in front of my existing left lens to simulate +0.75 for both eyes, as well as holding a lens in front of my right lens to simulate plano for both eyes, and in both cases the eyestrain and discomfort went away completely. For this reason I am inclined to think that he is correct and that the prescription is not going to work for me.

I would like to either go to a different optometrist or simply have lenses made up with my old prescription. When neither the optician nor the optometrist will accept responsibility for the problem, do I have any recourse to recoup the money I spent on the original, faulty prescription ($65), and the useless-to-me lenses made to that prescription ($200)?
posted by enn to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Did you pay by credit card? If so, you could try complaining to your credit card issuer.
posted by Leontine at 1:32 PM on December 3, 2013

Have you told the optometrist about the test the optician did with the lenses? That might get him to realize that something ain't right, or he might be able to tell you whether that's actually a reasonable test that would produce a useful result.
posted by Etrigan at 1:35 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'd go back to the optometrist and say what you learned about the spherical correction from the optician. Ask him to rewrite the prescription with the proper +0.75 fix, which is what you have had for the last X years.

Then, you can probably just get the left eye lens re-done with the +0.75 spherical correction after the prescription is fixed.
posted by Flamingo at 1:40 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Then, you can probably just the optician can get the left eye lens re-done with the +0.75 spherical correction after the prescription is fixed.
posted by vers at 2:02 PM on December 3, 2013

You should go back to the optometrist and insist upon a follow up eye exam. Your prescription changed and the glasses do not function properly. This is standard for an optometrist/patient relationship. You should not have to pay for them to fix this.

On the other hand, you may not be able to recoup the cost of the faulty glasses from the optician, if indeed it is the prescription that is awry since the two practices are not affiliated.
posted by sm1tten at 2:03 PM on December 3, 2013

Best answer: I knew my glasses were wrong the moment I put them on. The optometrist messed up the Rx and retested me. The eyeglass shop remade the lenses. I don't know who paid for the error, but it was not me. I was only out for the extended wait for the new test and new lenses. It worked out in the end.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:25 PM on December 3, 2013

Best answer: When it comes to medical issues I'm of the opinion that if something goes wrong and it looks like someone's dragging their feet, it's always better to start from scratch again (the second opinion thing), since it's basically your health that you're talking about. Anything causing headaches or vision issues is a pretty serious issue. One of the people in this circle is dropping the ball and unfortunately you aren't going to be able to ferret this one out with the resources you have available. Your best bet here is to start from scratch with a Step 1, a new optometrist.

What I would do is try calling around to different optometrists and explain your situation (try not to point fingers or sound like you have an axe to grind) and see whether they help you out and if they can fit you in somewhere and give you a break on the price. If they can't, call the next optometrist. I would bet good money that someone will take you in and get this sorted out. Some doctors are eager to get new patients and will take extra time, too, and this might be what does it. That will definitely give you a better idea where you stand. If the Rx you get is the same as from the other doc, then you know it's the eyewear... Step 2, go to a new optometrist.

Once you know who's at fault, you'll have a great paper trail for getting your money back from whoever is at fault or filing a small claim, if you decide you need to go that route. Obviously you'll lose a bit of money, but I'd rather spend $150 to not have headaches and blurred vision for a year.
posted by crapmatic at 2:32 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Also I figure I'd mention this just in case it helps: try avoid wearing any eyewear for 15-30 minutes before you visit the optometrist. If you're taking off glasses or taking out contacts to be tested, it's possible your eyes haven't fully adjusted to their noncorrected state. Many people probably adjust fine, but perhaps it's knocking your prescription off by just a bit.
posted by crapmatic at 2:39 PM on December 3, 2013

Most opticians in my experience will remake a lens for an RX change without charging you. It sounds like the problem is not with the fault of the optician, but I'm pretty sure they get a certain amount of free remakes from their labs. Some amount of the (high) cost of lenses is to cover remakes. Especially if its just one lens, I'm surprised if the optician won't give it to you, no charge if you ask. But you might need to get a new RX from an optometrist. In some places, an optician can't make a lens without a prescription.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 3:18 PM on December 3, 2013

This happened to me-- the optometrist's receptionist mis-transcribed the prescription for the bi-focal (which is a relational prescription, i.e. the glasses have one prescription overall, and the bi-focal portion is +1.5 of that, (or something)). So I had glasses that were great in distance, and mind-bending for stuff immediately in front of me. I gave it a week, because all glasses have new artifacts that your brain has to learn to ignore, and it was a no-go.

I still had my paper prescription (Costco optical filled the glasses, and they had a photocopy), and Costco confirmed that my glasses matched the prescription. I did the same test with my optometrist, and they confirmed that the prescription didn't match their records, so the truth came out when I produced my paper script in the office assistant's handwriting.

Costco replaced the lenses at no charge, so bravo to them. I was afraid of a headache there. This was a human error at work-- whether it was part of a pattern of errors I have no idea, but I'm made sure my doc knew about it in case he would have an idea.
posted by Sunburnt at 3:51 PM on December 3, 2013

Response by poster: Thank you all. I am embarrassed to say that it didn't even occur to me that I might be able to get only one lens remade, so I will definitely inquire into that. I will probably get a second opinion from another optometrist and, if it doesn't match, go back to the first optometrist and ask him to cover some of the costs of the remake, if any.
posted by enn at 4:09 PM on December 3, 2013

A major part of the cost of prescription eyeware isn't the lenses or the frames, it is the overhead of operating a bricks and mortar business. I doubt the actual cost of remaking lens is anything close to what you paid for, so much so that the optician could reasonably eat the cost and still come out ahead on the transaction, not to mention the value of keeping a customer happy.
posted by Good Brain at 6:38 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

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