I need help getting a contact lens prescription
April 7, 2008 2:20 PM   Subscribe

Is there a way to get a contact lens prescription without the machine where you pick 1 or 2?

I have a horrible time with this machine. It makes my eyes watery and then I cannot tell a difference between the lenses, none are ever strong enough because my eyes are blurry.

I am also very sensitive to light, and the doctors have acknowledged this. After they do all the other 'tests' first, my eyes are so tired and sore I wouldn't be able to see with the right prescription. When I try to explain this the doctors tell me it will still work, but I still can't SEE.

I have been to several doctors in the past few years and have yet to get a prescription that is right. It went from -4 to -8.0 then back to -6.5.

When I tell the doctors that my vision is still blurry with the prescription, they say it is allergies or they can't explain it. They tried astigmatism lenses but they would not stay facing the direction they were supposed to and they hurt my eyes. One doctor told me the brand I like did not come in a high enough power but I see online they go up to -9.0.

Are there no other alternative ways to find a patient's prescription? Or do I just keep getting bad doctors? It's too expensive to keep going every month to try to find a good doctor. Is there anything I can do to get a prescription that is right?
posted by jesirose to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
do you have the same issues when getting tested for eyeglass prescriptions?
posted by violetk at 2:30 PM on April 7, 2008

They told me it is the same exam.

I have not worn glasses in 3 years, but the prescription I had before I started contacts was about 3 years old already. I really don't remember how well the glasses worked.
posted by jesirose at 2:39 PM on April 7, 2008

Yikes, this sounds really frustrating. There is an alternative. You can go in for the introductory appt. for Lasik surgery. Under my insurance, this is covered as a regular eye exam, so there was the $15 co-pay and that was it. They mapped my eyes with this neato eye-scanning machine from the future, and took my prescription from that. At the end of the appt. they sat me down in the usual chair for the 1/2s, but they just dialed up the prescription to what the cool machine had told them. There were a couple 1/2s at the end there just to make sure, but the machine was spot-on. Then, ask them for your prescription and say you'll think about the surgery (in my case my pupils were too big). If it is like my Lasik center, you will need to go somewhere else to get the contacts prescription. You can order glasses right away, I suggest online.
posted by Eringatang at 2:42 PM on April 7, 2008

Oh- the contacts prescription will be based on the eye-scan recommendation, but with a sizing for the lenses.
posted by Eringatang at 2:44 PM on April 7, 2008

I've had optometrists who use some sort of machine that can (mostly) determine your prescription by analyzing your eyes while you're watching a special animation sequence. Then they do a little of the "one or two" bit to fine-tune it. Comments here suggest it's called a autorefractor.
posted by needs more cowbell at 2:47 PM on April 7, 2008

er, here, that is. Sorry for the bad link.
posted by needs more cowbell at 2:48 PM on April 7, 2008

Yeah, I was also going to suggest finding an optometrist who has an autorefractor. When you go in, you can explain your problem and ask if you can do the autorefractor part of the exam first. Then, you can ask them to write your prescription as that, regardless of the results of the later refraction. (Perhaps phrased better).

Finding a place with the autorefractor machine shouldn't be hard. The Walmart vision center near me has one, for example.
posted by mercredi at 2:55 PM on April 7, 2008

Have you considered being examined by an ophthalmologist, instead of an optometrist? If there's something funky with your eyes (besides just needing an eyeglass/contact lens prescription), then maybe a medical doctor would be a good thing to try.
posted by amtho at 2:57 PM on April 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm surprised this hasn't been brought up, but if you get your eye examined immediately after taking off your glasses or contacts, your eyes will not have had time to adjust properly. For the hour or two leading up to the appointment, go without glasses/contacts. It's inconvenient, but not as inconvenient as going for a year with eyewear based off of numbers that are a smidge off.
posted by crapmatic at 6:11 PM on April 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

Thanks everyone, I will try to find someone with that machine. I was hoping there had to be some sort of computer for this!

If I go to the lasik place I'd be worried they won't give me the prescription because that isn't what they want me to do. I would love to HAVE lasik but I haven't had a "stable prescription" for a year - I don't know if they are actually changing or if I just can't get it right. If I do have astigmatism (I don't think I do, but the doctor would obviously know better than me) can they tell that at the lasik place? I guess I can call and ask :)

Sorry, I thought I said I do go to an ophthalmologist. Or several actually :) I always just say doctor because I hate trying to spell it. The one who said it was -4 was an optometrist and I have not used one of those since. The funky thing with my eyes is the light sensitivity - my baby bro has it too and had to wear sunglasses since he was 2 years old. My mom also has the problem with that machine making her eyes water. I think we just have very sensitive eyes. The doctor who told me I had astigmatism said the only other problem was the light sensitivity.

crapmatic - that makes sense, but why would none of the doctors suggest that? They always have me take my contacts out right before.
posted by jesirose at 8:03 PM on April 7, 2008

Nah, your prescription is yours. The doctor wouldn't have a right to withhold it, and anyway would be extraordinarily unprofessional if she/he were unwilling to honor your choice to avoid the expense and risk of surgery if you felt that glasses or contacts were preferrable. Really, don't worry about it. There may be a a couple LASIK surgeons who behave like that, but it's not the norm. Eye docs -- optometrists and ophthalmologists both -- give patients their prescriptions routinely. It's no big deal at all.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 8:42 PM on April 7, 2008

The amazing eye-mapping machine is, in fact, a computer attached to some specialized instruments. This was the exam I had. I saw Dr. Sugar. I am not sure they have this thorough an appt. at all Lasik centers, so shop around. You may want to call the Kellogg center and ask for a recommendation. I strongly, strongly recommend going to a center connected with a teaching hospital, if you can find that in your area. They can absolutely see astigmatism at the Lasik center. It is based on the shaped of your eye (perhaps your cornea? I don't know, google it) so they can see it precisely.

When I clicked on your profile, I also saw that you asked a question about sewing. If you do a lot of close-up work on the machine, this will mess with your distance vision. It sure hurts mine. Maybe you can get some magnifying glasses so your eyes don't have to work so hard at the machine. You should mention this before you go to your next appointment. They may ask that you not stress your eyes out for a few days before the appt.

Before you go, confirm that they will give you your prescription.
posted by Eringatang at 12:25 PM on April 8, 2008

Eringatang: I'm sure it's the 10+ hours in front of the computer for my day job ;)
posted by jesirose at 12:34 PM on April 25, 2008

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