In which I discover a wretched hive of scum and villainy

I recently managed to find the least ethical optometrist in the world recently. I needed to order new contacts, as I was on my last pair. Simple, right? Go, read off the chart, get prescription, order lenses. I’m used to paying through the nose, because I allegedly need toric lenses, which are about twice as much as normal lenses are.

First he says that they’re not making the same type of lenses I’ve been wearing anymore. I’m unhappy about this, but have no reason to question it. He says that as per state law, he has to order a trial pair, I need to pick them up in person, wear them for a week, then come back again for a followup a week later. Adding to the fun: I don’t have a car, so each trip is a fun bicycle adventure on a local highway.

He also says, “Oh, hey, I can bill this as ‘medically necessary’ and you won’t have to pay a copay”. I know from experience that doctors treating me have a long, proud history of committing such insurance fraud*, wonder out loud if that’s entirely ethical, and have my concerns brushed aside. Fine.

It takes two weeks for them to order the lenses. I pick them up. I don’t like them at all; they cling to my eye and by the time I got them out on the first day my eyes were all irritated and blood shot. They’re tolerable, but not comfortable. I go back for the follow-up. They’re fine. I have to ask him three times to give me my prescription, which he finally does grudgingly. Insurance will pay $105 towards contacts. He says he will order them for me and they’re $75/box, six lenses per box. That’s not much. I say don’t order them yet, I’m sure I can get them cheaper online. He says that’s not a good idea but refuses to explain why.

I go home. I go to, where I have ordered lenses from since I started wearing them. The ones he prescribed me cost $50 per box. Then I notice that they do in fact still make the lenses I’ve been wearing, they are simply in the processes of changing the name. The ones I have been wearing cost $35 per box. Huh.

I call the optometrist’s office. I say “I was lied to and they do still in fact make my brand of lenses. I would like to order them and when the company calls to confirm, please do so. Furthermore, according to state law, unless there’s a medically compelling reason to do otherwise, contact lens prescriptions ought to be valid for two years rather than one, so I’d like the expiration date on mine changed.”

“That’s not what the doctor recommended,” says the receptionist. “And we should order them, because insurance might cover them in full if we tell them they’re medically necessary**.”

“Yes, well, I don’t like those lenses, I was lied to about their availability, and I prefer not to be part of what could be considered insurance fraud.”

“Well, I’ll have to have the doctor call you back.”

Fine. I hang up. The doctor calls a few hours later. I need to order the new type of lens. We argue about who knows best in this situation. He says that he has all prescriptions expire in year because it’s “better that way for everyone.” I say, fine, leave that, just tell me that you’ll confirm an order for the old lenses. He says I didn’t complain about the new ones; I say that’s because I didn’t realize that the old ones were still available. He again says, “I know what’s best.” I finally get pissed off and say that I’ve been wearing those lenses for years, someone with more experience and knowledge originally prescribed them (an ophthalmologist), and there’s no reason not to allow me to get the old ones. If he refuses, I’m certain that there’s a medical malpractice lawyer in town (and I do in fact know someone by name [on a personal basis]) who might be interested in this issue.

At that point the doctor clams up, grumbles for me to do whatever I want, and hangs up on me.

I order the new lenses when I get home from work, then go down to the gym and vent my frustration on the heavy bag. I’m still pissed off about it, because I despise being taken advantage of, and this guy was just a sleaze.

*I had surgery to correct some eye muscles when I was six months old. All ophthalmologists’ visits were submitted to the insurance company as “post-operative care” and thus I never had to pay anything for them. This continued successfully for 18 years.
**I have no idea where the hell this idea came from. They’ve never been “medically necessary” in the past, and I’ve been wearing glasses for fifteen years and contacts for five. Also, according to my online insurance statement they billed the insurance company $675 for the initial visit; if insurance doesn’t cover that and I get a bill, there may well be bloodshed.

I sympathize with you, NinjaChick.
Although I’ve been fortunate to escape the trials of eye care, I’ve been repeatedly misled, misdiagnosed, overcharged, and outright lied to from those in the medical and dental professions.
All the while being subjected to an overinflated sense of their own self-worth, an undeserved air of superiority, and a healthy dose of condescension from both the professionals themselves and their hired help.
I find it beyond irritating.
Perhaps reporting this scammer to a regulating body would help the next person.
If you have the time and inclination.

NinjaChick I don’t know your location, but it sounds like we’ve had similar experiances. I almost wonder if the name of the place might rhyme with ‘Benz-Raptors’, but I have no idea if you live in the tri-state area. I use Toric lenses too and they can keep their damn Bash&Gloms; gimme my Coopers…

And, here, I thought this thread was going to be the result of a visit to D.C.

Many people in the Medical Professions seem to think that they “know best” and therefore can freely decide for you what to do in all circumstances. They get away with this behavior because people allow them to do so.

But like any other service professional, they ultimately work for you. You have the final say in any decision. Any choices are yours to make, not theirs.

This Power of Choice is even more important to hang onto when it involves this field, because it involves YOU, mind and body.

When the “professional” will not allow you to make that decision, or fights you tooth and nail, it’s time to walk away and find another one.

…a wretched hive of scum and Optometry.


I lucked out. I picked an ophthalmologist out of the phone book that was close to my house and hoped for the best, and she totally rocks. I liked her before, but on my last visit, I discovered that not only is she totally nice and listens to me and all that good stuff, but she’s honest too. I was in for new glasses. My contacts prescription is still good for another year, so she didn’t do the contact lens exam, however, her assistant did charge me for it. I didn’t even notice when I paid. A week later, when I went in to pick up my glasses, the assistant handed me a check for 60 bucks and apologized. It would have been so easy for them to just pretend they didn’t notice, and only refund it if I’d realized their mistake.

Not really. To discover indicates revealing previously unknown information or conditions. DC in fact is a sufficiently well known hive of scum and villainy to be elevated to the point of infamy and is in fact a tourist attraction for just that reason.

Funny, this:

made me think someone was getting groped.


You forgot the “O”, here, I’ll fix it…

NinjaChick, you don’t live in Belleville, Ontario, do you? because I know someone who seems to have gone to the same optometrist…

Several years ago my husband got into a fight with Sears Optical because they wouldn’t give him a written prescription for his contacts. His uncle is an opthamologist and shipped contacts to him at his cost, but he couldn’t do exams over the phone. So he went to them for the exam. After much arguing, Sears finally released the prescription to his uncle directly but still refused to give him a written prescription. (Note: Doctors/vets cannot legally withhold prescriptions but only because consumer protection advocates pushed through laws forcing them to do so.)

Anywho, back in February, I took both daughters to the opthamalogist to get their annual exams. My youngest daughter needed glasses and he cheerfully wrote her a prescription, thinking undoubtedly that I’d walk it next door to the LensCrafters, which I declined to do.

My older daughter wanted to switch to contacts and after the exam (which cost $120, by the way), he told me that she needed to wear them for a week and see how she did. I specifically asked him for a written prescription He said “When you come back for the follow up visit, you can buy them here.” I said, “I realize that but I’d like a written prescription anyway.” He said, “Okay, I’ll have it in your file when you return.”

So we returned for the follow up and the receptionist asked her how they felt. She said fine. The receptionist then handed me a 3 pack of contacts and said, “That will be $75.” as if I had no choice in the matter. I told her that I’d like to do some price checking first and asked for the prescription “which the doctor assured me would be in the file.” She handed it to me with a thin smile.

So I went to Costco and priced the contacts: $60 for 3 months plus $25 instant rebate if you purchased a year’s supply. Sold. Trouble is, when I gave him the prescription, he said it was for glasses, not contacts. Of course. And I have a hard time believing the receptionist didn’t realize it when she handed it to me. I was all prepared for him to tell me that there was nothing he could do, but he said, “I’ll call the doctor and ask him to fax the prescription over.” And that was that!

He also threw in a free bottle of solution. I love Costco.

P.S. With 40% discounts + coupons, I’d been paying almost $200 for glasses at LensCrafters. Costco’s price: $90.

Well now that just hurts…

Nope, I’m in New Mexico. But I doubt it’s a particularly rare phenomenon - optometry is one of those fields you can go into, rake in the big medical bucks, yet not need to deal with emergencies or unpleasant bits like patients dying.

Nice. Lucky.
I actually recently lucked out with a dentist whom I found the same way as the optometrist - through the insurance website. She was absolutely fantastic, explained everything she was going to do and why, was gentle, and actually did what so few doctors do - listened to the patient and answered my questions, even the stupid ones.

The optometrist, on the other hand…ugh. I’ve discovered there’s a way to file a complain with the insurance company about doctors, so I’ve gone ahead and done that. And apparently he gets a lot of clients from that provider, because it’s what the state offices and some of the national labs in the area offer.

Good lord. My current optometrist insists on giving me a copy of my glasses prescription, and so did my previous one. I wonder if it’s legally required in Massachusetts?


Didn’t find anything in the General Laws. But I did find this discussion of the federal regulations governing prescriptions. Note how the language regarding contact lens prescriptions is framed (ha!):

So, PunditLisa, as infuriating as it must have been for you, being given the glasses prescription was in fact in compliance with federal regulations.

Pst -

From the FTC. The prescriber is in fact legally required to give you your contact lens prescription, not just “a prescription”, even if you don’t want it.

Sadly, the only law meant to protect the consumers rather than the doctors was A) not passed until 2004 and B) rather weak. I know that in my state, there’s a clause in every section saying “You must do this…unless the doctor comes up with some BS excuse about it being medically beneficial to do otherwise, in which case the patient has absolutely no choice in the matter.”

Okay - now I’m disappointed that no NC doper has mentioned Jim Black.

Who the hell is Jim Black? Gates County doesn’t even have a McDonalds, let alone hot and cold running quacks… :stuck_out_tongue:

Well, she is in Santa Fe. That concentration of politicians isn’t all that great either.

Personally, I just wear glasses. Safer in the lab, cheaper in the long run (if you wear the same pair for several years), and easier to take care of. Plus, I look better with glasses.

The problem is that the glasses/contacts sold at a Lenscrafters subsidize the low exam rates. If too many people do as you did, either eye exams will become more expensive (and those not covered by insurance less likely to have them) or Lenscrafters and their ilk will no longer offer the service. To me, what you did was the equivalent of going to an independent store (such as pets or computers), soliciting advice from the owners and experts, then going to Petland Discounts or CompUSA to buy.

(caveat: It feels this way, but I don’t know enough of the Lenscrafters business model to say this is exactly what is happening).