The Secret to Saving on Glasses and Contacts

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It's not that we don't have options for buying contact lenses and glasses. It's not even that insurance won't cover vision expenses (provided, as ever, that you have the right insurance). There's a missing stair, though, between getting an eye exam and getting low-cost vision correctives, and Yascha Mounk has had enough of it.

The Atlantic writer shared a story last week called "The Great American Eye-Exam Scam." In it, Mounk grumbles about the stumbling blocks optometrists put up, and the hundreds of dollars it can cost, to redirect patients-slash-customers away from low-investment options like Warby Parker eyewear and online contact lens sellers. That's thanks to regulatory policy backed by decades of lobbying: It seems straightforward that licensed and trained professionals should dole out your prescription, but many people believe you shouldn't be limited to buying glasses or contacts to that provider.

When confronted with such a scenario, Mounk remembered "two laws, one passed in 1997 and the other in 2003 … gave me the right to demand a copy of my prescription." He's referring to the Eyeglass Rule, which the government enforces through the Federal Trade Commission. If your eye doctor refuses to provide the results of your eye exam, or even if part it, like the pupillary distance; or if your provider tries to charge you for these results, which should be free in themselves; remind them that the only exceptions to the Eyeglass Rule are "ophthalmologists or optometrists employed by any federal, state, or local government entity" — and you're entitled to file an FTC complaint online if you suspect violations.