Senator Charles Schumer from New York made a news cycle splash recently with his comments regarding the price of eyewear. You can find our report on his statement here.
While I’m sure Sen. Schumer is fully conversant on all topics relating to eyewear as evidenced by his outstanding frame selection, those of us practicing in the real world fully recognize that our patients have a wide variety of choices when selecting eyewear, from our own opticals to those of local competitors and online vendors. While he said the average cost of a pair of spectacles was $300, again I’m certain that we all recognize eyewear prices run the gamut, limited only by the patient’s personal style and cost. So no, I don’t think there is a problem with eyewear availability.
Regarding the information necessary to fulfill a prescription, we all know he is talking about the pupillary distance (PD). This concern came about with the advent of Internet sales of eyewear, and it was a point I’m certain we’ve all pondered. So I made an executive decision in our office to include the PD on every prescription, every time.
More from Dr. Bowling: Why Blink and Opternative are a disaster waiting to happen
From my point of view, it is not worth alienating a patient over a PD. Our approach is to inform our patients they are of course free to purchase eyewear anywhere they desire. Then we have a discussion about the various measurements and choices involved in turning my prescription into a pair of spectacles that provides clear and comfortable vision. It is fine if patients want to give that responsibility to another entity. But they also need to understand if there is a problem with eyewear obtained elsewhere, I will be happy to schedule an appointment and re-examine them to determine the problem. And there is always a charge for office visits.
I’d like to humbly recommend Sen. Schumer to focus his formidable talents on another healthcare area impacting a far greater segment of the population than those needing a spectacle PD: the ever rising cost of prescription medications. While I get a PD request once in a blue moon, every single day I get a request for a medication change from patients who can no longer afford their current meds due to rising costs or benefit changes and reductions. Even the cost of old standbys such as doxycycline is getting expensive. Cheap eyewear can be found anywhere—the same can’t be said for prescription medications. Our patients shouldn’t have to choose between getting their medications or eating. They could use a champion in the Senate.
More from Dr. Bowling: The power of and