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How to avoid paying too much for prescription glasses and contacts

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Posted at 9:00 AM, Dec 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-16 11:00:47-05

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is cracking down on glasses and contact prescribers who may try to stop you from shopping around.

The FTC sent warning letters to almost 30 different eyeglass prescribers. The letters say the prescriber must give a copy of the prescription to the patient without them asking.

They can't charge a special fee for doing that and they can’t force you to buy from them just because they did the examination.

“However, there were a lot of prescribers that just weren't doing that,” said Linda Sherry, Director of National Priorities at Consumer Action. “If you asked for it, in most cases, you would get it. They also are required to post notices in the offices to say that you have a right to your prescription and a lot of prescribers we're not posting those notices.”

Consumer Action is educating people on their eyeglass and contacts prescription rights. Sherry says prescriptions allow you to go online and to other eyeglass and contact sellers to shop for the best deal.

Another thing she says to ask for, especially if you're shopping online, is pupil distance. It may not be on the prescription.

“I had an experience where I asked for the pupil distance and was told that would be $25 to put the pupil distance on, so I was like, ‘I've been coming here for three years and you've obviously measured my pupil distance, because I bought glasses from you. So, all you have to do is open your records and tell me my pupil distance.’ And they did do it, but there was that moment there when she said $25 for the pupil distance measurement when I thought, ‘oh, something's very, very wrong here.’”

Prescribers shouldn't be charging for that info either.

If you're having trouble getting prescription information from your provider, you can contact the FTC. But remember you may also be due for a new eye exam. State laws vary but most eye prescriptions are only good for one year.