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Eye health isn’t something to PLAY AROUND WITH…

Toys are fun, but they are also little learning tools that help develop minds for building, planning, and growing a healthy imagination.  The creativity involved in hands-on-toys can’t be beat, but video games sure try.  Whether you have little or grown ones at home the way they experience the world revolves around the way they see the world, and no one professional is more influential in your eye care than your eye care professional, so how do you choose a good one and what pitfalls should you know to avoid with growing access to chain and online options?

It’s actually easier to find an an eye doctor you can trust than you might think!  Follow this quick guide of 4 easy tips to preserve your family’s best vision.

  1. Trust your eyes to an eye doctor with a doctorate in medical eye care and a passion for the profession.  You’ll find these doctors through your social network of friends and family that live locally and the American Optometric Association.
    Simply search to find the doctors that are on this list before anything else because you can trust that you’ll get a doctor that cares enough to be a member.  Would you want to see a doctor who did not like their profession enough to belong to their national organization?  Would you ever choose to see a primary care doctor who is not a part of the AMA (American Medical Association) or a dentist who isn’t a member of the ADA (American Dental Association)?  Apply the same logic to membership of the American Optometric Association (AOA);  and if you want to take it a step further ask what role they play in their local society/state association…
  2. Put your trust in small companies OWNED BY DOCTORS.  This is counter-intuitive because some think that doctors who dispense medical devices and appliances have an inherent conflict of interest, but it’s quite the opposite.  What you want is for the care provider to be the one in charge of the decision making process about what features, which brands, what equipment, which tests, and what choices to offer!  Because if it isn’t a doctor making these decisions, then the medical devices and appliances are being sold by someone whose ONLY interest is in turning a profit.  Eyeglasses and contacts are not socks or shoes.  Zappos provides a special experience for every CUSTOMER, but that’s all they see you as: a customer.  Vendors that are not independently owned by eye doctors are out to do the same.  Online sellers of contacts and/or glasses are ONLY OUT TO MAKE A PROFIT, because you are just a customer to them, not a patient!  Some have little regard for eye doctors and dismiss the notion that the product they are selling are medical devices:  Check out this article. So how do you identify the places where the doctor is the one making these critical choices; ask a simple question: “If my doctor leaves, do my files leave with him/her or do they stay here?”  If the doctor retains your file, you are seeing a professional who can and will treat you as a patient first!
  3. You can trust your vision plan to control pricing.  Your eye doctor’s office will have access to your insurance coverage if you are using an in network provider for your glasses and if you owe a copay for a given feature THAT IS THE PRICE, PERIOD. Selling you the same product for more is a breach of contact with that vision plan and INSURANCE FRAUD = BIG TROUBLE.  What most people don’t realize is that there is a wide range of qualities for the various types of product.  Let’s take one feature as an example: non-glare.  Everyone benefits from a non-glare treatment to their lenses it just matters which category or grade suits you best.  Standard may only cost you $40, but if you buy standard beware; the likelihood of bubbles, scratches, etching, crackling, smearing, flaking, or otherwise defacing the surface of the lens is much higher than the three categories beyond it.  To keep this to the point, your eye care practice ought to have YOUR list of insurance benefits that states the cost of every feature possible for YOU.  With this list we recommend breaking it down into 4 parts: the frame contribution from insurance (you decide), the lens design (single or multifocal = your Script typically dictates), the lens material (your lens power ought to dictate), and the lens features (you choose with help from the doctor/optician).  Look for your eye doctor’s office to use YOUR LIST of benefits from your insurance and you can trust that the price for item x is the same for that item no matter where you discuss purchasing the glasses.  IF you’ve ever bought glasses because the product used to manufacture them did not hold up, you know what I’m talking about!
  4. Trust your instincts!  It ought to feel like a doctor’s appointment at a specialist doctor’s office.  There can be toys in a section of the waiting area for kids, magazines for adults, something boring on a television…  But if it feels like a wait between ropes at the DMV where you are processed through assembly-line style, or the time spent spending your money was longer than the time spent evaluating your eyes with the doctor, something is amiss.  If you aren’t asked for your MEDICAL INSURANCE (NOT VISION) when you enter so they can keep it on file should you have a need (because they are a medical provider for your eyes), run the other way.  If you aren’t greeted with HIPAA and a multiple-page form requiring that you provide your entire health history on your first visit (or greater than 3 years since your last visit), just leave.  If you aren’t offered extra machines that test the eye health better than the arcane insurance that hasn’t changed its general formula in 70 years, think twice.  If they aren’t offering extra machines all that means is that the decision maker (usually not a doctor) decided that it wasn’t worth while to invest tens of thousands of dollars to preserve eye health and save sight for the few thousand that will benefit from using the better technology at their eye exam.  The chains and online vendors aren’t evil, they want to keep you coming back as a customer so they treat you nice and they entice you with this and that, but the doctor-owned eye doctor office has one distinct advantage – they know you as a patient and can recommend what you’ll find advantageous in the various choices when filling your glasses and/or contact lens prescriptions.

So, don’t play around with your family’s eyes.  GO IN FOR A COMPREHENSIVE EYE EXAM ONCE A YEAR to complete the annual physical.  Once you’ve done your homework on where to go; trust your eye doctor from start to finish because if you follow these tips you’ll never feel like you didn’t get what you paid for!