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  #1  
Old 03-12-2010, 10:32 AM
Oglomott Oglomott is offline
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Can I buy prescription glasses without a prescription?

I just got new eyeglasses from my eye doctor, who is a new doctor for me. After leaving his office, I thought it would be a good idea to have my prescription with me, in case I was out of town and damaged or lost my glasses and needed to get a new pair made in a hurry. I returned a few days later and asked the girl working there if I could get my prescription, and I explained to her why I wanted it. She said, "the doctor isn't here now, you'll have to come back later." I asked if she could just look in my file and write down what it is, just so I will have it. She said, "Well, I can do that, but you won't be able to get glasses made from it, you need a doctor's signature".

Huh? You mean I can't walk into one of these one hour eyeglass places, and tell them to "make me a pair of glasses with this prescription", unless I have a doctor's signature? Why not? Is possession of eyeglasses without a prescription against some law? My old eye doctor had, on the back side of his business cards, pre- printed boxes with "OD" and "OS" (right and left) and he would write your prescription down for you so you would have it. If a doctor's signature is required, it's news to me.

BTW, I am in Florida, so I am most interested in answers that would be applicable for the USA.
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  #2  
Old 03-12-2010, 10:43 AM
MitzeKatze MitzeKatze is offline
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I think it changed several years ago when it became required for eyeglass prescriptions to expire after a year (I think it is a year, but it might be a different time frame) but before then it was possible to take your old glasses in and have new lenses made with the same prescription (that they got from looking at the current lenses). You can still do that if you go to wherever you originally bought the glasses and they still have the prescription on file. And at least some places* will still make you glasses based on an old pair (without a written script) if you ask them nicely, but I don't think they are supposed to.

*The Wal-Mart optical shop made a new pair for my husband who had scratched his lenses even though the prescription is almost 3 years out of date; but the technician mentioned that she wasn't supposed to be doing that, whether by law or internal policy I am not sure.
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  #3  
Old 03-12-2010, 11:11 AM
Bijou Drains Bijou Drains is offline
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I know here in NC for drugs a prescription can only last 1 year but I think for glasses the limit is 3 years.
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  #4  
Old 03-12-2010, 11:14 AM
aceplace57 aceplace57 is online now
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Arkansas limits eye prescriptions to one year. I wanted to get a spare set of glasses and Lens Crafters (they filled my original set) refused because I waited too long.
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  #5  
Old 03-12-2010, 11:16 AM
drachillix drachillix is offline
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Originally Posted by MitzeKatze View Post
I think it changed several years ago when it became required for eyeglass prescriptions to expire after a year (I think it is a year, but it might be a different time frame) but before then it was possible to take your old glasses in and have new lenses made with the same prescription (that they got from looking at the current lenses). You can still do that if you go to wherever you originally bought the glasses and they still have the prescription on file. And at least some places* will still make you glasses based on an old pair (without a written script) if you ask them nicely, but I don't think they are supposed to.
my experience has been most places will make you a new pair from testing a damaged pair. If you say the glasses are a few months old, they have no way to check. I ordered a pair just yesterday from www.zennioptical.com. Asked for all thr scrip info but no mention was made of faxing it in or anything.

Dirt cheap glasses there, take a look.

Also, at least in Ca, they are required to give you a written copy of the scrip.
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  #6  
Old 03-12-2010, 11:47 AM
Oglomott Oglomott is offline
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Well, I sure didn't realize you needed a signed, written prescription to get glasses. As long as I tell them what I want, and I am willing to pay for them...it's not like drugs or narcotics, where you can sell them on the street and make some kind of a shady living from them.
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  #7  
Old 03-12-2010, 12:02 PM
BigT BigT is offline
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Originally Posted by Oglomott View Post
Well, I sure didn't realize you needed a signed, written prescription to get glasses. As long as I tell them what I want, and I am willing to pay for them...it's not like drugs or narcotics, where you can sell them on the street and make some kind of a shady living from them.
You might be making beer goggles or something.
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  #8  
Old 03-12-2010, 12:08 PM
CookingWithGas CookingWithGas is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oglomott View Post
Well, I sure didn't realize you needed a signed, written prescription to get glasses. As long as I tell them what I want, and I am willing to pay for them...it's not like drugs or narcotics, where you can sell them on the street and make some kind of a shady living from them.
I don't know what the law is, but the wrong prescription can certainly cause eyestrain at a minimum, and maybe damage at worst. Even if the law doesn't require it, I sure wouldn't want to get sued by giving you glasses that aren't exactly what you need.
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  #9  
Old 03-12-2010, 12:23 PM
MitzeKatze MitzeKatze is offline
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Originally Posted by CookingWithGas View Post
I don't know what the law is, but the wrong prescription can certainly cause eyestrain at a minimum, and maybe damage at worst. Even if the law doesn't require it, I sure wouldn't want to get sued by giving you glasses that aren't exactly what you need.
After mentioning that the law required the expiration dates, I did a quick Google search to refresh my memory, and it seems that the change of the law that I was thinking of was primarily for contact lens prescriptions.

My cursory search indicates that the laws regarding the expiration dates (and possibly the need for a prescription at all) vary by state. But I am pretty sure no optometrist (or optical shop) is going to make a prescription lens without a prescription of some sort (even if it is just the old lens) for the very reasons you mention.

Last edited by MitzeKatze; 03-12-2010 at 12:24 PM..
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  #10  
Old 03-12-2010, 12:39 PM
Markxxx Markxxx is offline
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I can see some yahoo getting in a car accident an suing their eye doctor claiming he should've required an examine before issuing glasses. So it's most likely a law to cover your bases, but it doesn't hurt it makes money for the doctors either.
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  #11  
Old 03-12-2010, 01:37 PM
PatriotGrrrl PatriotGrrrl is offline
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I don't know what the law is, but as drachillix says there are online stores that don't require any proof. These are not necessarily cheap glasses either, some sites that sell expensive sunglasses or shooting glasses will make you prescription ones.
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  #12  
Old 03-12-2010, 01:44 PM
Omar Little Omar Little is offline
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Thank these guys for lobbying state governments to pass laws requiring annual examinations and requirements for prescriptions.
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  #13  
Old 03-12-2010, 01:50 PM
EmAnJ EmAnJ is online now
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I'm in Canada, so it's obviously different, but I ordered three pairs of prescription glasses online and didn't need to fax in my prescription.
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  #14  
Old 03-12-2010, 01:52 PM
EmAnJ EmAnJ is online now
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Hey, that reminds me - can you guys (US) not buy those prescription reading glasses at the pharmacy? They usually are in a little rotating stand and go from pretty weak to very strong.
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  #15  
Old 03-12-2010, 02:18 PM
HawksPath HawksPath is offline
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I've bought glasses online and had to enter the perscription details, but did not have to provide any copies of the perscription. I even did this buying name brand frames and plan to buy some cheap backups soon.
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  #16  
Old 03-12-2010, 02:23 PM
thelurkinghorror thelurkinghorror is online now
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Places like Zenni Optical don't need a copy of your eyeglass prescription and I don't think there's any federal law requiring them to do so, although they're based in Hong Kong.

Every (legit) online contact retailer needs a physical copy (fax is usually ok) or need to call the optometrist per federal law I believe.

Edit: I should read above responses better... hopefully I added something.

EmAnJ, they're available in almost every pharmacy. Usually fixed in steps of +0.5 diopters.

Last edited by thelurkinghorror; 03-12-2010 at 02:25 PM..
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  #17  
Old 03-12-2010, 02:28 PM
garygnu garygnu is online now
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Originally Posted by EmAnJ View Post
Hey, that reminds me - can you guys (US) not buy those prescription reading glasses at the pharmacy? They usually are in a little rotating stand and go from pretty weak to very strong.
Those ones are not prescription glasses.
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  #18  
Old 03-12-2010, 03:46 PM
drachillix drachillix is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oglomott View Post
Well, I sure didn't realize you needed a signed, written prescription to get glasses. As long as I tell them what I want, and I am willing to pay for them...it's not like drugs or narcotics, where you can sell them on the street and make some kind of a shady living from them.
Well considering the prices I have seen some eye docs charge for a set of glasses, you probably could. I could seriously see hanging out a shingle and selling $8 glasses from zennioptical for $39 and having a line out the door.
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  #19  
Old 03-12-2010, 04:15 PM
Tom Tildrum Tom Tildrum is offline
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The restrictions may have something to do with the expectation that people are going to be using their eyewear to drive.
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  #20  
Old 03-12-2010, 06:36 PM
EmAnJ EmAnJ is online now
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Originally Posted by garygnu View Post
Those ones are not prescription glasses.
Yes, but they still could do damage if worn by someone who doesn't need them, right? One of the reasons stated in this thread for needing a signed prescription for glasses is liability. Would these not be considered a liability as well? Same thing, but on the other range of the spectrum.
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  #21  
Old 03-12-2010, 07:03 PM
Hello Again Hello Again is online now
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It is actually a violation of Federal Law for them to withhold your prescription from you.

See here for cite to relevenat FTC rregulation
http://glassyeyes.blogspot.com/2006/...w-here-is.html

The counterperson was lying to you, whether it was intentional on her part, or just what the eye doctor told her to say to put people off, is a matter for speculation.
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  #22  
Old 03-12-2010, 07:07 PM
jackelope jackelope is offline
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I'm in Tennessee, and I've bought prescription eyeglasses on-line several times. The site just asks you to fill in the numbers off the prescription form. I've had no trouble at all, and no request to see tthe actual prescription.

Also, I don't know if this is state law or what, but when I got my last eye exam, the optometrist (is that right?) made a point of giving me my prescription to take with me. I don't recall her exact words, but she gave me the impression that it was my legal right to have that; I had the feeling she was going out of her way to comply with some regulation.

By the way, GlassyEyes.com is a big proponent of getting glasses on-line and often links to special deals and discounts. The guy is not affiliated with any retailer and the site has reviews of the various outlets and such. If you need new glasses, I'd start there.
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  #23  
Old 03-12-2010, 07:26 PM
cstamets cstamets is offline
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Originally Posted by Hello Again View Post
It is actually a violation of Federal Law for them to withhold your prescription from you.

See here for cite to relevenat FTC rregulation
http://glassyeyes.blogspot.com/2006/...w-here-is.html

The counter person was lying to you, whether it was intentional on her part, or just what the eye doctor told her to say to put people off, is a matter for speculation.
She wasn't withholding the prescription. The doctor wasn't in the office to write the prescription. I'm sure had the OP returned when the the doctor was in the office, it would have been possible to get a prescription. Or, the counter person could have been asked to have the doctor write the prescription and put it in the file to be picked up later, or have it mailed.

The counter person can't write the prescription any more than the receptionist at the MD can.
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  #24  
Old 03-12-2010, 07:55 PM
Hello Again Hello Again is online now
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Originally Posted by cstamets View Post
She wasn't withholding the prescription. The doctor wasn't in the office to write the prescription. I'm sure had the OP returned when the the doctor was in the office, it would have been possible to get a prescription. Or, the counter person could have been asked to have the doctor write the prescription and put it in the file to be picked up later, or have it mailed.

The counter person can't write the prescription any more than the receptionist at the MD can.
A glasses prescription is not a one-use item like a pharmacy prescription. They should (in fact must) have it on file. I have on many occasions gotten it written down on a little card by the receptionist. The doctor's signature is not required.
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  #25  
Old 03-12-2010, 08:08 PM
Oglomott Oglomott is offline
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Originally Posted by Hello Again View Post
A glasses prescription is not a one-use item like a pharmacy prescription. They should (in fact must) have it on file. I have on many occasions gotten it written down on a little card by the receptionist. The doctor's signature is not required.
I did return later and they gave me a small laminated card with my prescription on the back; it was signed by the doctor and is supposedly good for one year.

After visiting another eyeglass store, it seems that in order for them to make you a pair of prescription glasses, they must have either your old glasses so that they can read the prescription from them (using a special machine), or a written prescription with an eye doctor's signature. She said they WILL NOT make glasses for you just based on you telling them what prescription you want.

So I guess you DO need a prescription for prescription glasses.
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  #26  
Old 03-12-2010, 08:13 PM
cstamets cstamets is offline
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Originally Posted by Hello Again View Post
A glasses prescription is not a one-use item like a pharmacy prescription. They should (in fact must) have it on file. I have on many occasions gotten it written down on a little card by the receptionist. The doctor's signature is not required.
I guess maybe that depends on where you are.

They're not one-time use, but, at least in Ohio, I get them on a form signed by the doctor. I can carry that form around and use it all I want, but it has to be signed by the doctor, and it expires after 2 years. Contact prescriptions expire after 1 year.
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  #27  
Old 03-12-2010, 08:39 PM
jackelope jackelope is offline
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Originally Posted by Oglomott View Post
She said they WILL NOT make glasses for you just based on you telling them what prescription you want.

So I guess you DO need a prescription for prescription glasses.
I don't know if the law works differently for on-line ordering, but you definitely do not need a written prescription to order from, for example, 39 Dollar Glasses or any of the other sites listed on Glassy Eyes. You just enter the numbers into their Web-form and they send you glasses. I've done it myself.

(Caveat: It was a little over a year ago that I did it, so maybe things have changed. But I went to 39 Dollar Glasses just now and clicked through as though I were going to order a pair, and it just pulled up a Web-form to fill in with the prescription numbers.)
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  #28  
Old 03-13-2010, 06:01 AM
RandomLetters RandomLetters is offline
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Originally Posted by drachillix View Post
Well considering the prices I have seen some eye docs charge for a set of glasses, you probably could. I could seriously see hanging out a shingle and selling $8 glasses from zennioptical for $39 and having a line out the door.
Walmart (at least around here) is already selling basic glasses for $38, so that business plan wouldn't work so well.
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  #29  
Old 03-14-2010, 12:04 AM
chorpler chorpler is offline
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Yeah, I was quite surprised to find that I didn't have to prove I had a prescription for my glasses, just had to fill in the curvature numbers. Nice.
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  #30  
Old 08-25-2012, 06:47 PM
wooba wooba is offline
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I'm in Toronto, Canada and I just tried to purchase glasses at one of the places inside Wal-Mart. So I would not lose my prescription I had a photo of it on my phone. They would not accept it. Since I know they just look at it and enter some numbers in the computer and I'm paying for them myself, I cannot understand this at all.
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