Buying prescription eyeglasses? Your rights are clear

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The FTC’s Eyeglass Rule makes it easier to comparison shop – which can help you save money. The Rule gives you the right to get your prescription from your eye doctor – whether you ask for it or not – at no extra charge. You can use the prescription to buy eyeglasses wherever they are sold – from an eye doctor, from a store, or online. Cost and quality can vary a lot from seller to seller, so it pays to shop around for the best deal.

Your eye doctor must give you your eyeglass prescription after
your exam. It’s the law.

The doctor must give you your prescription for glasses at the end of your eye exam. The doctor can’t require you to pay an extra fee, buy eyeglasses or contact lenses, or sign a waiver or form in exchange for your prescription. You shouldn’t have to ask for the prescription (and the doctor shouldn’t even ask if you want it); it should be automatic.

If you suspect an eye doctor is violating the Eyeglass Rule, you can report that online at FTC attorneys and investigators – and hundreds of other law enforcement agencies – use consumer complaints to bring cases against companies and people that violate the law.

In fact, the FTC staff recently sent 38 letters warning eye doctors about possible violations of the Eyeglass Rule. Violations of the Rule could result in legal action and financial penalties.

For a more in-depth look at your prescription rights for eyeglasses – and contacts – read our newly updated article, Prescription Glasses and Contact Lenses. It includes a list of what you should see in your prescription.

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness


Glad to see this is law, as it is always a pressure point by the office to purchase glasses on site. I always did until I lost the $700 pair that cost me so much and lost so easily. I believe in getting the full eye exam from the eye specialist but getting the frames wherever I can get the best possible price. Maybe if I had more leeway in my budget it wouldn't be necessary to be shopping around. You need at least 2 pairs with transition lenses on both so you can wear them at all times even outdoors.

I'm near sighted. On a rare occasion, I misplace my current glasses, which means I can't drive, nor do much of anything. I just go get my previous prescription pair of glasses from the bedroom drawer and wear them: problem solved. The difference in prescription strength between eye visits is never so big that I can't successfully wear my previous glasses for a while.

Did you not keep your previous pair?

The way it is done once a year you have an eye exam with a chart on the wall. This chart reading exam will cost money plus Dr.exam. I always have a choice to buy my eye glasses anywhere I want to and compare prices. I do not buy lenses on the internet, to complicate with progressive or bi-focal glasses. It always depend on the frame you buy to size the eye glasses. You always can buy a frame you like on the internet if cheaper than local(close to the size you had before), this way not to much problems, and buy lenses locally.

Thank you for your protecting our children

I just want to encourage people to try buying glasses line. I get a pair of progressives for something like $50 (and if I wanted single-vision, it would be only about $15). Don't be put off by measuring the "PD". I have not had any particular difficulties with this, but the potential savings make it worth it if it doesn't work out exactly right the first time. Just make sure you copy the numbers correctly from your eyeglass prescription.

You do realize that if you put the private doctors out of business you won't have anyone to trouble shoot those darned online glasses... Think before you speak...

Not true because there is way too much competition out there I've been buying my glasses online for the past 15 years you can get the PD from your doctor it's not against the law they are required to give it to you in the event that you want to purchase online per the federal trade commission

Actually, according to 99% of the state laws, the pupillary distance is not part of the eyeglass prescription. Decentralization of lenses to line up correctly with your eyes to reduce chances of double vision is the responsibility of the eyeglass seller, not the doctor.

My 7 year old measured mine for me with a ruler, its not that hard LOL - you can do it in the mirror two if you follow the simple one eye closed, put "O" under the open eye. Close eye, open other, bam, didn't need an Opt. Lic for that, or a 300% markup.

FTC needs to investigate price fixing in the prescription eyeglass industry particularly the relationship between Luxotica's retail outlets and Eyemed, the 2nd largest US prescription eyeglass insurance plan administrator, also owned by Luxotica.

You can report marketplace problems to the FTC at The information you give will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

I had cataract surgery and am now near sighted. I was told I would need bifocals to correct the problem. I was not given a prescription. It was sent to the optical department in house. I paid over $500 and am now being told that a $1.00 pair works just as well from over the counter. This prescription and purchase was made on friday. This morning, Monday, I decided to cancel. I was told I could not. Is this legal?

I can only buy my glasses at vision work because my insurance won't let me buy anywhere else. Frames $69 total cost $390 out of my pocket. I feel ripped off and have no recourse.

I went to an optometrist in Florida for an eye exam. My prescription for glasses and contact lenses didn't change. I didn't buy glasses or contact lenses. When I got home and looked at my bill, it was $65 for the exam and $80 for the "fitting." Does discussing my prescription and asking if there there are any better contact lenses available now (there aren't) constitute a "fitting"?

Eye doctors often provide their patients with more than one service.  Your eye doctor may check to see if your vision needs to be corrected.  Your eye doctor may also check the overall health of your eyes.  Your doctor may bill for each of these services separately. 

However, your doctor may not charge you for your eyeglass prescription under the FTC’s Eyeglass Rule.

So I went to my eye doc, and got a yearly checkup, and when asked if I also wanted an eye exam was charged $75 more, so this apt turned out to be a $110 apt! So I get the prescription, but I wanted to buy the glasses at Walmart. I hand over my prescription and the lady at the counter tells me, I'm sorry but we can't accept a prescription from anyone else but our eye doctor's! I told her, but she's a legal doctor in the state of MD, it didn't matter, they would not sell me a pair of glasses until I paid another $45 to see "their doctor", I felt so mad a ripped off! The only good thing was I was able t purchase the glasses for like $65, and they were bi-focal. Bad thing is I lost them within 6 months of getting them!!

Can I get charge for having a strong prescription for my glasses lense? Paid for my lenses & later was told there's an extra charge due to my overpower prescription.

Dr. prescription wrong twice. Third try, now after catract surgery, wants to charge me for lenses which were done twice already to a wrong prescription costing $400. Where can I file a complaint?

Can a employer prevent me from useing my prescription sunglass's since my regular pair is broken?

Nice to read your blog! What you provided in this blog is true to some extent.

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