Consumer Protection
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How to Protect Yourself: Eyeglasses and Contact Lenses
Source: The Florida Attorney General's Office


If you are in the market for eyeglasses or contact lenses, don't rely solely on advertised prices for these products in deciding which eye care practitioner to go to for an examination, or where to buy the glasses or lenses once you have the written prescription.

Eye Care Practitioners
There are three types of eye care practitioners. An ophthalmologist is a medical or osteopathic physician who specializes in diagnosing and treating diseases of the eyes. He can examine the eyes and dispense eyeglasses and contact lenses. An optometrist has a doctor of optometry degree, and can examine the eyes for vision problems and diseases, and can dispense eyeglasses and contact lenses. An optician may prepare and dispense eyeglasses and contact lenses, upon receiving the prescription you have obtained from the ophthalmologist or optometrist. Opticians who are specially certified may even fit you with soft contact lenses, and adapt them if necessary, and may do the same with hard contact lenses if the medical doctor or optometrist has authorized her to do so.

Your Prescription
The law provides that once your eyes have been examined, you are entitled to your prescription for eyeglasses, or a duplicate of the prescription. This will allow you to shop for the best value. Some eye care professionals may agree to provide you with a copy of your contact lens prescription also, particularly if the prescription is for soft, daily wear lenses. If you want a copy of your contact lens prescription, you may wish to choose a practitioner who will provide it to you.

Price Considerations
When comparing the cost of eyewear products and services, avoid getting into the situation of comparing "apples and oranges." If relying on a verbal price quote or a written advertisement, ask for a detailed account of exactly what goods and services are included in the price. For example, does the price for an eye examination include a contact lens evaluation, fittings and follow-up exams? If you have difficulties with your glasses or lenses, will there be a charge for appointments with the practitioner? If you are unable to adapt to the lenses or glasses, what will the practitioner do, and will there be an additional cost? Does the practitioner offer service agreements, and if so, what is included? Also, if your practitioner offers options in choice of contact lenses, ask what additional products are needed to maintain each kind of lens. Some of these products are costly, and may affect your purchase choice.

Advertising Offering "Free" Goods
Items which are advertised as free, must in fact be free, without any other obligation or requirement to pay for all or part of the item. The ad does not have to use the word "free." Any word or group of words which leads you to believe you will get something for free qualifies. If there are conditions attached to receiving the free item, such as the purchase of another item, the ad is required to clearly state such conditions.