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The Cost of Convenience

The other day I was at the gym watching TV and there was a segment about getting an eye exam using your iPad or other tablet. You were then able to order frames and lenses through a website and the completed pair was then sent directly to your home. Sound easy? Sure it does. But it is in your best interest not to do so for many reasons as I will explain below.

About a week later I was at work and a patient came in with a prescription along with a gift certificate she won for eyeglasses at Optix. Our office frequently donates gifts certificates to charitable causes. The patient said she wanted to get a pair of glasses for the computer and I said, “No problem.” I looked at the prescription and it was written as a distance, or driving prescription. I questioned the patient and she told me she does not wear distance glasses. “No problem,” I said. “I will call the doctor who prescribed them.” I called her doctor’s office and they confirmed that what they had given her was for distance use. They then read me her reading prescription. I had to question that prescription too because the astigmatism part of the reading prescription was different from the distance prescription. This is very rare. Another part of the prescription was also questionable. This is even rarer. I suspected a problem and her doctor said she had to look into it and call me back. In the meantime, the patient agreed to get an eye examination from one of our doctors. Since she had just paid for an eye exam at another doctor, we did this eye exam at no charge to her as a courtesy. As our optometrist completed the examination we got a call from her original eye doctor confirming the prescription. The good news was that the two prescriptions were almost identical.

So how does this story relate to my title of this blog? I am a New York State certified and licensed optician. If I or one of the other licensed opticians in our office had not looked carefully at the original prescription, and asked the patient how she wanted to use her eyeglasses, they would not have been made correctly for her. Personal involvement with our patients is necessary when formulating prescriptions, customizing lenses for specific needs, and choosing a frame that best suits a person not only for style but for functionality.

The 21st century is all about ease and speed. That is great for some things, but not for everything. I can attest to that based on the numerous patients that I have personally helped whose eyeglasses have been made poorly elsewhere, usually by online vendors and sometimes from other opticals. People are constantly asking us to check their lenses because they are not seeing well and they had nobody to help because they bought their eyeglasses online. Why didn’t they go back to the internet to get their glasses fixed? It is because the internet is not a person. These sites are just interested in selling eyeglasses without any customer service. Extensive studies done by the American Optometric Association have shown that over 60% of the eyeglasses made via internet sites are made incorrectly in some manner, as opposed to about 5% in an optometrist’s office. Most of these internet vendors also been shown to use inferior products.

And what about some of the newer technology that claim they can do an eye exam on your iPad? Do you really think that you can feel comfortable that your eyes are healthy from an iPad exam? Do you really think that your eyeglass prescription can be as accurate using an iPad compared to the sophisticated technology that is now available in an eye doctor’s office? The funny thing is that one internet site asks for your shoe size in determining the distance between your eyes. Let me ask you, “Would you open your mouth, take a photograph, and let the software on your iPad tell you why your throat hurts”? Would you let the software prescribe an antibiotic? For me, internet eye care is not an option. Technology is wonderful, but it does not replace a face-to-face relationship with a professional who can look after your best interests. We all need experts to ensure our eye and general health and to make sure our eyeglasses are manufactured to exacting standards. We need professionals who take pride in what they do. We definitely have these people at Optix Family Eyecare.

Come see us. You will be glad you did.

Judy Kestenbaum, Optician

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