California eye doctors keeping patients in the dark

Required prescription rights signage nowhere in sight

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California regulations require signage to inform patients of their right to get an automatic copy of their eyewear prescriptions, yet the requirement seems to be largely ignored by optometrists, according to a recent spot check of offices in San Francisco, Santa Clara and San Jose, CA, by consumer education and advocacy organization Consumer Action.

A full 90 percent of 20 optometrists’ offices our staff visited in mid-March (March 8-15) did not have the required signs. While Consumer Action will not publish the names and addresses of the shops, we have documented our visits and will make our findings available to regulators.

If you get a fitting for glasses or contact lenses anywhere in the United States, the federal Contact Lens Rule and the Eyeglass Rule require eye doctors to give you a copy of your prescription at the end of your eye exam or contact lens fitting—whether you ask for it or not. The doctor can’t require you to pay an extra fee for the prescription, sign a waiver or buy eyeglasses or contact lenses on site.

The state goes further than federal law by requiring that optometrists post a “Consumer Notice” informing patients that “Eye doctors are required to provide patients with a copy of their ophthalmic lens prescriptions”.

“We were outraged to see how many optometrists’ offices were neglecting to post the required consumer notice,” said Linda Sherry of Consumer Action. “The law is designed to help consumers comparison shop if they prefer to buy their eyewear outside of the eye doctor’s place of business.”

Sherry added, “We encourage patients who visit eye doctors to be aware of their rights to take their prescriptions and find the best value in contact lenses and glasses, whether it be online, at discount clubs or from national eyewear chains.”

Click here to learn more about Californians’ rights relating to prescription eyeglasses and contact lenses. To file an optometry complaint, visit the State of California’s Department of Consumer Affairs.

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Consumer Action has been a champion of underrepresented consumers nationwide since 1971. A non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, Consumer Action focuses on consumer education that empowers low- and moderate-income and limited-English-speaking consumers to financially prosper. It also advocates for consumers in the media and before lawmakers to advance consumer rights and promote industry-wide change.

By providing consumer education materials in multiple languages, a free national hotline, a comprehensive website (www.consumer-action.org) and annual surveys of financial and consumer services, Consumer Action helps consumers assert their rights in the marketplace and make financially savvy choices. Nearly 7,000 community and grassroots organizations benefit annually from its extensive outreach programs, training materials and support.

 

 

 

 

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