Originally posted by Mike Timmermann for Rare

Getting a glasses or contact lens prescription soon? Eye doctors could be breaking the law when it comes to your prescription – and patients might not have the slightest idea how it could be costing them money until it’s too late.

The Federal Trade Commission has warned 38 eyeglass prescribers of potential violations to the Eyeglass Rule, which gives you the right to shop around for eyeglasses and contacts. With so much competition, you might be able to find a better deal from another eye doctor, store or online. And it’s up to you to decide where to buy. That’s why the law was put in place.

Know your rights under the law

  • Your eye doctor must give you a prescription for glasses at the end of your exam.
  • You can’t be required to pay an extra fee, buy eyeglasses or contacts, or sign a waiver in exchange for the prescription.
  • The doctor should give you the prescription automatically. You shouldn’t even have to ask for a copy of it.
  • As for contact lenses, the FTC says your eye doctor must give you the prescription after your fitting, which may require more than one appointment.

What exactly is in a prescription?

For eyeglasses, you should see:

  • Your name
  • The date of your exam
  • When your prescription was issued, and when it expires
  • The name, postal address, phone number, and fax number of the eye care prescriber

For contacts, you also should see:

  • The power, material and/or manufacturer of the prescribed lens
  • The base curve or appropriate designation of the lens
  • The diameter of the lens, when appropriate

If you’re prescribed private label contact lenses, the prescription should include the name of the manufacturer, the brand name, and the equivalent brand name, if that applies, according to the FTC.

Download and print a copy of the law and bring it to the eye doctor to make sure they comply.

If you think your eye doctor is violating the rule, report it online at ftc.gov/complaint.

Prescribers who violate the Eyeglass Rule could face legal action and stiff penalties of up to $16,000 per violation.

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