August 19, 2014 127 Comments
Until recently, I have sided with ECPs who resist the idea of surrendering a patient’s PD. Their concern about their liability should the patient have a problem with eyewear purchased elsewhere is legitimate. The concern that giving the patient their PD makes it easier for them to shop elsewhere is also real. Yet my experience after a recent eye exam has caused me to rethink my position.
The exam was my second in six months, and it was performed by the same ophthalmologist. I went back to her because my vision has not been as sharp as before, and I wondered if my refraction was accurate or if I might have a medical problem.
Fortunately, no medical problems were detected. Puzzlingly, my refraction was exactly the same as it had been six months before. That left me wondering if my optician had erred in taking my PD or any other measurements, or if my lab had made a mistake when fabricating my lenses. Thinking that I would try a different dispenser, I asked my doctor for my prescription, including the PD. She refused to release the PD on the grounds that she didn’t want to assume liability if I encountered problems with my eyewear. I walked away feeling frustrated by my lack of options, as I’m sure many consumers do when encountering this situation.
What’s the answer? Perhaps patients could sign a waiver releasing the doctor from potential liability. That makes the PD release strictly a business issue.
As an informed consumer, having vision care options is a priority. So although I have confidence in my doctor’s medical abilities, her position on PDs may cause me to seek out another doctor who supports my freedom of choice. Consumers shouldn’t have to select a doctor on that basis, but that is the reality of vision care today.
—Andrew Karp, Group Editor, Lenses and Technology