How to Protect Yourself: Eyeglasses and Contact LensesSource: The Florida Attorney General's Office
How to Protect Yourself: Eyeglasses and Contact Lenses
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.
Know the differences between 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 as well as 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 him to do so.
You are entitled to a copy of your prescription.
The law provides that once your eyes have been examined, you are entitled to your prescription or a duplicate of the prescription. According to the Federal Trade Commission's Contact Lens and Eyeglass Rules, contact lens prescriptions must be provided when a contact lens fitting is complete, and eyeglass prescriptions must be provided at the end of an eye exam, whether you specifically request it or not. This will allow you to shop around for the best value.
Know what’s included in the price.
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.
Understand advertisements offering "free" goods or services.
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.
File a complaint.
You may also file a complaint with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which acts as the State's consumer complaint clearinghouse, at www.floridaconsumerhelp.com.