What exactly is a contact lens prescription?
Dr. It has come to our attention that there exists within the patient and consumer arena significant confusion as to what exactly constitutes a valid and complete contact lens prescription. The contact lens prescription is a documented formal prescription signed by an eye care physician which clearly states the contact lens manufacturer, contact lens specifications (power, size, etc.), and any speciality information regarding the contact lens. It usually is valid for one year’s time.
Although this sounds simple and straightforward, confusion exists as to how this prescription is generated. The majority of eye care practices start with a basic eye examination to determine the initial health of the eye. Additionally, a careful refraction (glasses prescription) is generated through this basic examination. This refraction number - prescription is written out and signed by the eye care practitioner (ECP) and it is valid in the State of Oklahoma to purchase eye wear from not only the doctor’s office generating the prescription, but any licensed optical distributor in the state.
Most eye care practices then take these numbers combined with a special corneal measurements (eye shape measurement) known as a “K-Value” which determines the shape of the appropriate contact lens. The majority of patients have either a low, middle, or steep K-value. This allows the doctor to “fit” the eye with the appropriate contact lens brand, power, and style based upon a combination of the refractive (glasses prescription) and the K-Value. This is an additional element of a contact lens examination. This is a critical element as this determines the final selection which is based upon the ECP’s judgement and the patient’s response to fitting. In the majority of practices, this is completed by the physician themselves, however, in a growing number of practices, this is delegated to non-physician staff-technicians of varying ability and quality.
Once the contact lens “fitting” is completed, this generates a formal and complete contact lens prescription. The contact lens prescription is also written on an appropriate prescription form. It should designate the manufacturer, lens style, appropriate power and shape, and be signed by the eye care practitioner. This then allows the patient - consumer to purchase the contacts directly from the physician or office performing the fitting or at any licensed optical store or distributor.
The main confusion regarding all of the above is that a small percentage of practices simply give the patients the glasses prescription and the K-Value only. This is not a valid contact lens prescription. As an example above, this simply is a starting point for the fitting process to determine the actual contact lens required to achieve good visual functioning and comfort for each eye.
It is customary for practices to charge an appropriate fitting fee based on the complexity of the prescription and/or the experience of the contact lens fitter, (i.e., physician versus technician). We have seen an increasing number of patients confused by what they perceive as a “bait and switch”. Some practices advertise an artificially low price for a contact lens examination. In these practices, they are only giving to the patient the glasses prescription - K-Value Rx. They then have to “buy up” to complete the contact lens purchase through paying additional “fitting fees”.
Our fees reflect a complete package of examination of the eye, with generation of the glasses prescription, measurement of the K-Value, and completion of the fitting with the dispensing of an initial first set of contact lenses if in stock. All of this is performed by the eye care physician and only assisted by the technicians. Our practices include thirty days of appropriate follow-up to ensure appropriate fit and function, if required, and usually include the initial pair of contacts and a new contact lens case and solution cleaner. We are happy to also “fill” your prescription through a very competitive pricing structure for the sale of contact lenses. We offer pickup at the office or direct shipping to your home, whichever is preferable by the patient.