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.

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optical shop made a new pair for my husband who had scratched his lenses even though the prescription is almost 3 years out of date; but the technician mentioned that she wasn’t supposed to be doing that, whether by law or internal policy I am not sure.

I know here in NC for drugs a prescription can only last 1 year but I think for glasses the limit is 3 years.

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.

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 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.

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. :eek:

You might be making beer goggles or something. :cool:

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.

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.

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.

Thank these guys for lobbying state governments to pass laws requiring annual examinations and requirements for prescriptions.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Those ones are not prescription glasses.

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.

The restrictions may have something to do with the expectation that people are going to be using their eyewear to drive.

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.