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Use the Eye Doctor's Prescription, or Re-Test at the Optical Shop?

Should you follow the spectacles prescription by the eye doctor from the eye clinic, or should you do a re-test at the optical shop and follow the new prescription instead?

With an aging population in Singapore and great access to and better understanding of eye care, it is now less uncommon for spectacles wearers to be on follow-up with an eye doctor or more regularly visit the eye clinic for checks.

Wearing eyeglasses and reading a book


At the Eye Clinic

Besides the consultation with the eye doctor, there are ancillary tests that are typically done at the eye clinic - usually a visual acuity check to see how well your vision is or a refraction to determine the 'degrees' of your eyes.

While a small minority of patients may choose to forgo such tests, perhaps to save time or costs, the results of such tests can be useful, for instance in seeing how a condition or disease is progressing and affecting the patient's central vision clarity.

With the refraction - or eye power test - done, eye clinics may give a prescription to the patient. Some clinics may write for the prescriber of the eyewear to adjust and refine, or for the patient to be re-tested, while others may indicate that glasses should be prescribed as stated.


At the Optical Shop

Optical shops typically offer a refraction in order to obtain the 'degree' of the eyes for the purpose of doing the glasses for you.

When you bring in a prescription from an eye clinic, we prefer to ask a few more questions, for example:

- The reason for the visit to the eye doctor.

- More details on any eye conditions diagnosed at the eye clinic.

- If the doctor or optometrist at the clinic has advised anything regarding doing new glasses

- When the next follow-up will be, if any.

- How your current glasses are working for you.

The Challenges

Some practitioners may prefer to write the prescription that corrects the vision best, while others may give the actual prescription to be prescribed, which may have been adjusted. The problem is - the optical shop often doesn't know which is the case.

And so, we have to take a holistic approach in ensuring your new prescription and new glasses work for you. This includes taking into account all the information we have, including our own refraction results.

As prescribing and dispensing of spectacles are closely linked it is best to have your spectacles dispensed where you have your eyes examined. It is often more difficult to resolve any problems you may have with your spectacles when prescribing and supply are separated. - The College of Optometrists, UK, 2016

What you can do for the Best Results

When going to the optical shop:

- Always bring along your current glasses, even if they aren't 100% clear, as they can give a good insight into what works and what doesn't;

- Explain a little about your eye condition; for older folks who may not be too sure, bringing a family member when visiting both the eye doctor and the optical shop may help a lot;

- Don't forget your eye doctor's prescription!


Why we may adjust the prescription

Sometimes, we do find ourselves adjusting the prescription. There are various reasons for this, including:

- There is a large change in the prescription and the wearer might not be able to adapt to the 'full prescription';

- It has been a long time since the eye doctor's prescription;

- The customer feels more comfortable with our refracted prescription;

- We take into consideration the wearer's lifestyle and the type of eyewear chosen by the customer.

Eye strain may be resolved using eyeglasses

The more extreme cases

And of course, there will be the few folks who withhold the prescription or information about the eye doctor's visit, in order to 'test' the optical shop to see if they are able to obtain the same prescription as the eye clinic.

Some people even go to the extent of not allowing the optical store to use their current glasses as a reference point.

The downside of doing so is a lower standard of care. The lesser information your eye care practitioner has, the lower the chance that your problems can be dealt with satisfactorily. And it's just pointless.

Think of it this way - if you have a bacterial infection, and you know the pathogen causing the infection, do you 'test' the doctor by refusing to say anything? In this case you'd probably get a broad-spectrum 'general' antibiotic as a first step, which could be less effective than an antibiotic that can better target the pathogen and make you well sooner.

Your eye care practitioners - whether they may be optometrists in eye clinics doing the refraction for you, or the opticians in optical shops fitting your swanky new pair of spectacles for you - work in loose tandem to give you the best care possible. Giving them the appropriate information makes it good for you.



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