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A surge in online shopping as consumers snap up bargain eyeglasses

Physical retailers feel the squeeze as FTC guidelines level the playing field for online retailers

The FTC closely oversees the implementation of The Eyeglass rule – and Contact Lens rule. This has been in operation for more than a year now. What impact is this having on consumer behavior, online retail and conventional optometrists?

Background:

The strong boost in the online sales of eyeglasses comes as no surprize, thanks to changes in the law, more than a year ago. Now, retailers have caught up with the trend. There used to be a time when people needing eyeglasses had to go to their local optometrist for an eye examination or prescription – and they could only obtain glasses from them. It was then widely assumed that people are under an obligation to purchase their eyeglasses or contact lenses from the local optometrist who has provided them with that prescription. All of this has now been changed by new legislation which basically states that a person who has visited a local optometrist will be within their rights to take that prescription and to shop around for the best possible deal. This has led to an increase especially in the US of people who are now making use of opportunities which is provided by online retailers. An increasing number of US citizens are now buying their prescription eyeglasses online. One of the primary motivations is the fact that eyeglasses can be obtained very cheaply when they are purchased online. This can be very beneficial especially as far as children’s eyeglasses are concerned. Those eyeglasses may need to be replaced frequently for a variety of reasons. Making use of available online opportunities can help parents to remain within their budget.

Example of a fast-growing online retailer:

What exactly are the rights of consumers?

 

Any time a consumer visits their local optometrist with the purpose of getting a fitting for contact lenses or glasses, the law states that the doctor has an obligation to provide you with a copy of that prescription. According to legislation, this has to be done whether the consumer requests that prescription or not. Furthermore, according to legislation, the optometrist cannot request additional payment, you are also under no obligation to purchase contact lenses or eyeglasses or to enter into any other contract with that optometrist unless this is something which you want. That prescription becomes your property by law to use in whatever way you want. You can take the prescription and then shop around for contact lenses or eyeglasses at a wide variety of retailers. You can now buy from someone online, from a different optometrist or from a store in your part of the city. You are no longer limited to those frames and lenses which is offered by your local optometrist. With that prescription, you now have access to unlimited options when it comes to eyeglasses and contact lenses.

Stand on your rights

 

The next time you have your eyes examined make sure that you do not leave that business before you have received a copy of the prescription. Despite the current legislation, there may still be optometrists who will try to bully consumers into buying their products. As soon as the consultation reaches the point where the optometrist is trying to sell you contact lenses or eyeglasses you can correctly assume that the examination of your eyes has been completed. You will then be within your rights to get up and leave with a copy of the prescription in your hand. You are under no obligation whatsoever to purchase anything from that optometrist at all. When you receive your prescription it should contain the following information. Your name should be on it as well as the date on which the examination has been done. It should clearly state not only the date on which the eye examination has been done but also when that examination will expire. It should also have all the contact information of the optometrist such as his or her name, phone number, postal address and fax number.

Other things to look out for

 

The prescription should also indicate the manufacturer of the prescribed lens as well as the power which is required and the materials which is used in the manufacturing process. The prescription should also provide information such as the curve of the lens as well as the appropriate designation of the lens. Other information is the diameter of the lens. You may require specialized eyeglasses or contact lenses such as private label contact lenses and in that event, the name of the manufacturer as well as the brand name must be supplied. All of this information which is supplied in a prescription is things which have been determined by state law. Your optometrist might be willing to measure your pupillary distance. This is simply the distance between the left pupil and the right one. This is important information for those who would like to purchase eyeglasses online. The majority of optometrists will not charge when measuring pupillary distances. In the unlikely event that you are expected to pay for that measurement, many online sellers are more than willing to compensate you for that cost.

 

Rita Monteiro

Rita – After graduating from NYU with a master degree in history, She was also a columnist for many local newspapers. Rita mostly covers business and Technology topics, but at times loves to write about reviews as well.
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