Online Glasses and More 1-800-CONTACTS Talk

So last night I got a few replies to some of my blog posts about contact lens sales and 1-800-CONTACTS: "Um no. You shysters got slammed by the FTC for your anti-competitive practices and withholding your "patient's" contact lens prescriptions - which you already got busted for in the 70's with eyeglass prescriptions. Can't blame 1-800-contacts for that now can you?" and "Yet another OD in support of anti-competitveness and price fixing." So let's address some of this. Yes, OD's got in trouble in the 70's and 80's for withholding glasses and contact Rx's, and rightfully so. How does that make it ok for 1-800-CONTACTS to fill box orders with passive verification in 2015? Or battle the contact lens manufacturers in state court over unilateral pricing? Come on. I already said we don't even try to make money on the box sales anymore. Did you miss that? I'll tell you something else we have never done here: withhold an Rx for anything. I am not disputing that some OD's have done this, but we never have. Let me tell you about online glasses: they suck. I'm serious. I mean it's probably fair for you young, low-prescription single-vision wearers out there who happen to fit in an average sized frame, and many of my patients have done this. I willingly and freely offer those patients the written Rx *WITH* the PD so they can do just that. But a bunch of them (even the easy Rx's!) come back complaining, and when we take measurements on the glasses they turn out to be some seriously shoddy work. Some of them are really bad. The worst are the progressives. Virtually none of them are right. Some of them are *close*, but MOST of them have been pretty darned terrible. That's because you can't "ballpark" an optical center/seg height measurement on a progressive. The only way it works is when the patient is sitting in front of a real person who knows what they're doing and has the right instrumentation and experience to choose the right brand/design for the precise vision needs of that individual person. And when it's not exactly right the patient has major problems. Not to mention the lenses are almost always cut way, WAY too big for the frame (a common newbie mistake). A too-large lens will never pop out, which is one reason why they do this. It's also the fastest way to make a pair of glasses, and should we be surprised that the online guys are in a big hurry? Or are that they are probably newbies? But a too-large lens will break a metal frame way before it's time, and seriously distort a plastic frame in a way that eventually makes the edge show and look *terrible*. How long is the warranty for? Better check up on it. I am not "in support of anti-competitveness (sic)". I just see through 1-800-CONTACTS obvious struggles and resultant state legislative lobbying. The single thing that makes their model work is going away, and I predicted it. I have already said that I don't care where patients get their contacts because we literally do not even try to make a profit on them anymore.


  1. I've been buying my eyeglasses online for years. I've got a relatively high prescription with astigmatism (-5.00 -1.00 90) and immediately notice if something is off, even if its just the pd.

    Without fail, every pair that I've received has been perfect. In contrast, my experience at Costco and Lenscrafters has been horrible. Axis was often off and pd was always off by at least 1mm.


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