Recapturing Walking Contact Lens Prescriptions
BY MARY JAMESON, BHS, COA, NCLC, CPOT
We live in a society that offers many choices for the same item at different prices and availabilities. Mail-order and Internet options are available for contact lens wearers to purchase their lenses, but in doing so patients sacrifice a number of checks and balances (quality laboratory, verification of the order) that many practices provide. In any case, make sure you know your office's contact lens prescription release policy before you release any information to outside agencies.
Reviewing the Basics
Contact lenses are an FDA regulated product and therefore require a valid prescription from patients who order them. Thirty-four states (see box at right) require that a practice provide its patients with their contact lens prescriptions. The prescription should include:
- Name of practice and doctor
- Contact lens brand/material
- Base curve
- Expiration date
- Lens wear mode
- Number of refills
Let patients know that they should understand these numbers and what they refer to before they consider ordering their lenses outside of your practice.
Controversy surrounds the fact that some of these online companies sell lenses to patients without a valid prescription. Allegedly the companies say that they will check with the office to confirm the prescription, but that may not always happen. A company may not give the office a chance to confirm the prescription because of the time of the call and the limitation of the call-back period. This remains an issue for practices and patients.
Double Checking for Accuracy
The patient should have a copy of his prescription to read from when placing an order and should be aware of any attempts by the operator to substitute a different brand or type of lens. Do not authorize substitutions without the prior consent of the practitioner. Once the patient receives his lenses from the company, he should check the lens brand, name, base curve, sphere power, cylinder, axis, diameter and any other parameters ordered as well as the expiration date to make sure that he received what he ordered.
Why Follow Up is Important
We need to constantly educate contact lens patients about the importance of regular check ups. Make sure that your patients have a schedule of appointments that they adhere to. Emphasize that regular follow ups will help to reduce the chances of contact lens-related problems. Most importantly, the patient needs to know that if he has any questions about his eyes and contact lenses, he can contact your office for clarification.
States that Require CL Prescription
Ms. Jameson is laboratory supervisor for the Department of Clinical Sciences at the Pennsylvania College of Optometry and is a past chair of the AOA Paraoptometric Section.