Friday, November 18, 2005

Who Pays for a Mistake?

Despite my pronouncement about seeing clearly last week, it really wasn’t so. Getting my second pair of new glasses did fix the problem of horizontal centering (making sure the center of my pupil is behind the center of the lens). However, I continued to have headaches and eyestrain.

I finally realized that what was causing me the greatest problem was playing the piano, looking at my computer keyboard, and reading – all of which I spend a lot of time doing. With a little experimentation I determined that the ideal focal point for reading a book was 8". No one holds a book that close! ...not if given a choice, that is.

I finally went back to the optician’s office on Monday. My guy Ron who turned out to be nice the last time was not there. So I had Peruvian Maria instead. She pretty quickly concluded that the prescription for the bottom third of my new lenses (the part for reading and close work) was not correct. This was not welcome news, but at least confirmed why I was having trouble seeing!

Aside from the headaches and the eyestrain, there was this little problem of having expended $900 on three pairs of glasses – regular progressive lenses, sunglasses, and a third pair for close work. I quickly concluded that all three were now WRONG!

So the next day I trudged back to my ophthalmologist, the source of the prescription. His cute little assistant took my glasses and determined that they had been made according to the original prescription. She checked my distance vision and concluded that it was perfect. Then the doctor, with his crisply pressed gray suit and schoolboy smile, came in and said, “How’s it going?” When I told him about my near vision problems, he had the audacity to say, “Could you perhaps just read without your glasses?” To which I replied, “Now why would I want progressive bifocals if I could read without my glasses? I don’t think so.” He did some quick measurements and determined that the magnification factor should have been 1.5 instead of 2.5. The real kicker came when I asked him how he had determined the factor in the first place, to which he replied, “I just looked your age up on a chart.” What this says to me is that this idiot thinks that all 56-year-old women have the same level of deteriorating eyesight. He handed me a new prescription and was about to walk out the door when I said, “Who is going to pay for my 3 new pairs of glasses at the tune of $900?” thinking that he might cover or share the expense. He quickly responded that the optometrist’s office would cover it, or else he would never send them another customer!

There is something ethically wrong with this picture! It wasn’t poor Ron of Powell Optician’s problem who caused all three of my pairs of glasses to be made wrong. Why should this little company be responsible for a fat-cat doctor’s stupid mistake?

But what was starting to come to my mind was a similar situation 10 years ago when I once before struggled with new glasses, only to learn that the prescription had been wrong. I said to my self, “What a fluke! I’ll never go back to that doctor again!” and I didn’t, after paying a fortune to finally be able to see again.

Next Tuesday I will go back to Ron and hopefully finally get lenses that are correct for my eyes, which are obviously not your average 56-year-old eyes. Meanwhile, this is what I have learned from this experience:

(1) When you get a new prescription, make sure they check the focal length for reading, as well as doing the test for distance vision.
(2) Know the distance between your eyes (in my case 62 mm.) and make sure they use this in cutting the lenses to fit the frames.
(3) Make sure one set of lenses is PERFECT before ordering additional pairs of glasses.
(4) Don’t assume that a headache or eyestrain are necessary to get used to new lenses.
(5) Don’t trust that anyone involved will necessarily do the right thing, but that everyone will be more than happy to charge you for the wrong thing.

Will someone please remind me to read this before I ever attempt getting new glasses again? PLEASE!

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