Written May 7th, 2012 after a rushed eye appointment led to an incorrect prescription for my eye glasses, this article is designed to help you get the most out of your next eye exam.
Screening Optometry: Five Questions to Ask Before You Schedule Your Routine Eye Appointment
How to Ensure You Receive a Quality Eye Exam
Optometry is big business! Every year, the optical industry generates $14 billion (http://www.ibisworld.com/industry/default.aspx?indid=1560). That’s a lot of eye doctor appointments, glasses, contacts, and other accessories! So it should not be a surprise that profit motivates both small providers and large optical chains-everyone wants to make the most money out of consumers.
While perhaps we have been taught that profit is the holy grail of industry, when it comes to health care-which optical services and products are-quality needs to trump quantity. Of our five primary senses, we all depend the most on our sight; errors made in the name of corporate profit can have horrible, sometimes permanent consequences to our lives!
In March, 2012 I discovered just how wrong things can go when I made an appointment with a local optical chain, expecting top quality in the examination room and high quality glasses. I received neither. In the process of getting the problem fixed (requiring four visits to their office), I learned key questions everyone should ask before scheduling an appointment with any eye care provider you have used (in that location) for less than five years.
- How long is the typical appointment? This question gives you a baseline for comparison. Typically a properly done eye appointment should take between 15 and 30 minutes-longer with ophthalmologists or if you checking for a specific ocular issue beyond myopia (near-sightedness) or hyperopia (far sightedness). If the answer is less than 15 minutes-GO ELSEWHERE. A proper eye exam needs a full 15 minutes to check for everything and to confirm prescription accuracy.
- What is your policy on walk-in eye exams? You want to get as much information as possible here. The stores love walk in business and will take quality-diminishing short cuts to put as many people into the doctor’s chair as possible with as short a wait as possible for the walk-ins. If you do need a walk-in appointment, ASK if the doctor is busy or free before you agree to be seen. Remember: if the doctor is cutting short a pre-arranged appointment to see you, odds are both of you will receive less time with the doctor than you need for an accurate exam.
- Do you ever double-book appointments? Any optical store may not be honest with you on this subject, but asking will probably cost you nothing. If you do get a “yes” to it, ask for more information-when and how often?
- Are your doctors independent of your dispensary? Independent doctors are paid by you-not the eye wear dispensary. That makes them less sales-focused and more patient-focused. Whenever possible, patronize the independent doctors.
- What guarantees do you offer regarding eye wear accuracy? In case there is a mistake, know the procedure and any additional costs to you to fix a problem before you schedule your appointment.