Your Primary Care Provider Does Not Know About Eyes/Vision

I'm sorry, but they don't. They don't know whether you have pink eye or not (probably not) and they don't know whether you are 20/20 or not. This is not a knock on them, they have a lot to worry about.

I just had a patient who I saw last year and Rx'd glasses to, glasses that she is perfectly happy with, wears 18+ hours/day, and sees well out of to her knowledge. Until, that is, she had her vision tested at her annual PCP visit. The nurse told her at that visit that her vision was "20/60" with her glasses on and that she was not seeing well at all and needed to get to the eye doctor right away. Well This was news to her bc she had no symptoms of blur, and was just seen last Sept, when I told her she saw great and everything was fine. So she came in today for an eye exam and...she still sees great and everything is still fine. Her Rx is unchanged. She is 20/20 through her glasses, she is absolutely not "20/60".

So how did this happen? Here's my speculation: this patient wears progressives. The standard non-eye-doctor way to check vision is to cover one eye with a plastic paddle and read a chart. Well everyone...everyone presses too hard with the paddle. The people not wearing glasses press too hard and literally smash their covered/closed eye, making acuity on the second eye awful bc of a deformed cornea, and the people wearing glasses press too hard and shove their glasses way closer and way higher than they normal wear them, which totally skews the vision in all glasses, especially progressives.

So we're back to something I've blogged about before: people generally do not understand how to check vision. It's not all that easy. So basically if your PCP or the DMV or the school nurse or whomever tells you to go to the eye doctor, do it. It's great advice. But please don't panic or make any decisions about your eyes/glasses/vision until you see the optometrist, bc a lot of times the info you've been given from those places is not accurate.


  1. This is fantastic. I don't know how I stumbled across your blog, but glad I did. I've been working in Optometry since 1995 and I'm getting great laughs out of all of this. It's all soooo true.


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