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View Full Version : Virginia Requiring Yearly Eye Exams


coladar
10-11-06, 09:22 AM
I swear, I'm getting incredibly tired of the state of Virginia legislature thinking they are doctors. First of all, just a couple of months ago Virginia made it so that unless a doctor writes "Brand Name Medically Necessary", a pharmacy by law must fill your prescription with a generic regardless of your health plan or if you're paying for your drugs by cash. I was ready to go down to Richmond with a shotgun over that. (Just joking!) It is utterly retarded that a state can mandate anything along those lines, but whatever.

So I started getting contact lenses in January after wearing glasses since I was about 8 (I'm 23 now.) I had an eye exam in September, went back in January, said I wanted to try contacts. Since I'd just had an eye exam, they used the same prescription from January and just made the measurements specific to contacts. I bought another supply in June, and then went back on Monday to get another few months worth. They looked in my folder, saw I'd last had an eye exam in September of '05, which is over a year.

At that point I was told they are not legally able to sell me any contacts, or for that matter if my glasses were to break, I could not buy new glasses. Why? Because the fucking state of Virginia apparently made a new law that if you haven't had an eye exam in the past 12 months, you're not allowed to buy any glasses or contacts! And guess what, it'd only cost me $149 on top of the $70 for my contacts. I searched on the Internet, assuming that these people were pulling it out of their ass to make some extra money. Nothing on the Internet.

So I figured I was going to be smart and beat the system by ordering online. Only to find that all these online places apparently call your prescribing optometrist to verify the prescription. At that point I figured I had to e-mail one of the places beforehand. I e-mail 1-800-Contacts or whatever the site is, and guess what? It is a Virginia state law, and they cannot sell me any contacts without an eye exam newer than 12 months old.

First of all, this is the most fucking retarded thing I have ever heard. For kids, maybe. But unless Virginia is offering free eye exams, guess what, not everyone makes a couple hundred thousand a year making up assinine laws. But for ADULTS? My prescription hasn't changed in four years, not a single hundreth of a point. And now I'm having to pay, if I went to a cheaper place, at least $50+, EVERY YEAR. This lousy state apparently thinks they are god, I'm not sure exactly what business a state has making up these kinds of laws regulating private health care. Last I checked, it's the doctors discretion. When I went for the exam, I was told to come back in three years... Well, a bunch of dumb asses in Richmond apparently think they know more than my optometrist.

Okay, my long-winded rant is over. I'm so extremely upset over this, I'm still steaming a day later. So two questions... First of all, is there any other law like this in the US, or is Virginia just full of a bunch of extremists?

Second, and most important... Has anyone bought contacts online from a place where I can just order what I know I need and not have to worry about them finding out the prescription is over a year old? I'm this close to just trying to sell if any guys that stole some off a truck have them on sale on eBay. There is absolutely no way I am paying for another eye exam, first and foremost being as a jobless college student I don't have that kind of money to spare for absolutely no logical reason.

AGuyNamedMike
10-11-06, 09:50 AM
Are the laws similar in WV or MD? For the short term I'd go there if they are less stringent. For the long term, I'd contact my state representative and start making waves. AFAIK, the federal law that requires eye care professionals to provide you with a copy of your prescription also sets the minimum expiration time of it to one year, so they are withing that guideline.

Nick Danger
10-11-06, 09:52 AM
Sounds like Virginia's optometrists and opticians made some hefty campaign contributions last year.

Birrman54
10-11-06, 09:55 AM
Are the laws similar in WV or MD? For the short term I'd go there if they are less stringent. For the long term, I'd contact my state representative and start making waves. AFAIK, the federal law that requires eye care professionals to provide you with a copy of your prescription also sets the minimum expiration time of it to one year, so they are withing that guideline.

I'm not aware of any such requirements in MD.

emanon
10-11-06, 09:58 AM
My wife recently experienced the same thing here in IL- she attempted to reorder her contacts online (I think it was visiondirect, but could be wrong) and they called and found out her prescription was just over a year old. Therefore, they wouldn't renew it.

I guess a trick may be to stock up on more than a year's worth of contacts once you get a new prescription, if you want to circumvent the system. Do contacts have a shelf life?

Chew
10-11-06, 10:01 AM
Aren't you close to Washington DC? How about getting a PO Box there and order contacts with that address?

Groucho
10-11-06, 10:02 AM
Is there a state to state listing somewhere that shows when eye prescriptions expire?

Mikael79
10-11-06, 10:19 AM
Do contacts have a shelf life?

Contacts do indeed have a shelf life, and it I remember correctly - it's around three years.

matta
10-11-06, 10:21 AM
Speaking of that, why do you even need a prescription for contacts / glasses? It can't be abused for medication... If you really want to have out of focus vision, it should be your right.

BTW, rumor has it that kvrdave has 20/-20 vision (that's right, he can see behind himself).

4KRG
10-11-06, 10:24 AM
This is why I ordered my last set of replacement glasses from pakistan - that don't give a rats ass about ANY laws as long as your credit card clears. The glasses were fairly nice for $20 (includ shipping) as well

I have also taken my prescription into photoshop and changed the date to the previous day, gone into lens crafters in the mall (for $300 pair of glasses, but it was an emergency) and they didn't even question it :)

WallyOPD
10-11-06, 12:27 PM
I didn't even realize the hoops people had to jump through for glasses/contacts. I guess I just assumed it was a simple in/out process. That sounds like a law that serves very little purpose, sorry you have to go through that. Makes me even more thankful for good eyesight.

al_bundy
10-11-06, 12:50 PM
Speaking of that, why do you even need a prescription for contacts / glasses? It can't be abused for medication... If you really want to have out of focus vision, it should be your right.

BTW, rumor has it that kvrdave has 20/-20 vision (that's right, he can see behind himself).

most people drive, so if you get bad glasses or contacts you can cause an accident

i'm guessing there were some accidents in virginia where people had old glasses or something or maybe it happened somewhere else and they passed this law

4KRG
10-11-06, 02:04 PM
most people drive, so if you get bad glasses or contacts you can cause an accident

i'm guessing there were some accidents in virginia where people had old glasses or something or maybe it happened somewhere else and they passed this law


This is why you have to pass an eye test at the DMV to get a license and/or to get a license renewed. Also, once you hit a certain age in VA (I think it is 65) you have to pass the eye test every year to keep your license.

So - try again?

Every year is complete bullshit. BEFORE this law was passed, I had the same glasses perscription for 10 years. Now that I am older, I need a new script more often, but still not every year. My current script is 3-4 years old and I can still pass the eye test at the DMV without any trouble at all.

Ranger
10-11-06, 03:17 PM
This is why I ordered my last set of replacement glasses from pakistan - that don't give a rats ass about ANY laws as long as your credit card clears. The glasses were fairly nice for $20 (includ shipping) as well
Reminds me of that Seinfeld episode about the glasses from malaysia.

a year does sound like bs. I think eye doctors usually say prescriptions should be updated about every 2 years at the most.

al_bundy
10-11-06, 03:20 PM
This is why you have to pass an eye test at the DMV to get a license and/or to get a license renewed. Also, once you hit a certain age in VA (I think it is 65) you have to pass the eye test every year to keep your license.

So - try again?

Every year is complete bullshit. BEFORE this law was passed, I had the same glasses perscription for 10 years. Now that I am older, I need a new script more often, but still not every year. My current script is 3-4 years old and I can still pass the eye test at the DMV without any trouble at all.

the way things work is 5 people last year probably got into an accident due to bad glasses, someone lobbied the government like they always do and they passed the law

benedict
10-11-06, 04:02 PM
Sounds like Virginia's optometrists and opticians made some hefty campaign contributions last year.That is what I was thinking. Presumably those affected can write to their senator (or whatever you call those people that claim to represent voters).

ike0000
10-11-06, 04:24 PM
Its like this in KS now also. I just bought a crapload of contacts right before my perscription expired to last another year or so. I remember my doc even telling me I could do that last year.

ernestrp
10-11-06, 05:21 PM
This is why you have to pass an eye test at the DMV to get a license and/or to get a license renewed. Also, once you hit a certain age in VA (I think it is 65) you have to pass the eye test every year to keep your license.

Not according to the VA DMV:


http://www.dmvnow.com/webdoc/citizen/drivers/renewing.asp?pf=y

Once you are 80 then every 5 years when you need to renew your license you have to have your eyes tested. Under 80 you still have renew your license every 5 years but only have to take vision test every 10 years.

criptik28
10-11-06, 06:03 PM
Once again I'm damn_grateful I don't need glasses/contacts.

Emma311
10-11-06, 06:49 PM
They've always required that at any of the optometrists I've went to (here in PA). I just order extra so that I can wait 2 years instead of one.

adamblast
10-11-06, 06:56 PM
Same thing in California, I wonder?

I got my first prescription glasses about 13 months ago... And I got a phone call in September saying my prescription was now obsolete... I figured it was just them drumming for business, but I guess not...

Mr. Salty
10-11-06, 06:58 PM
Misleading thread title. Virginia doesn't require people to get yearly eye exams, it sets an expiration date on prescriptions.

I've lived in Illinois, Texas and Iowa, and it's been the same in all three states. I can't say it's a bad idea. Your eyes can change in a year, and it's not a bad idea to have a general eye exam for things like glaucoma or other problems.

$149 seems a little high for an eye exam, though. I think my last exam was $80, but with insurance I only paid $10.

WallyOPD
10-11-06, 07:05 PM
Under 80 you still have renew your license every 5 years but only have to take vision test every 10 years.

Another thing I like about Arizona, I don't have to renew my license for another 35 years.

kantonburg
10-11-06, 07:46 PM
I've lived in VA all my life and have had contacts since I was in 8th grade. I've had to get a new prescription every year in order to get contacts. I don't see what the big deal is?

Duran
10-11-06, 07:48 PM
I've lived in Illinois, Texas and Iowa, and it's been the same in all three states. I can't say it's a bad idea. Your eyes can change in a year, and it's not a bad idea to have a general eye exam for things like glaucoma or other problems.

So the poor are just hosed if their glasses break, huh?

4KRG
10-11-06, 08:21 PM
Not according to the VA DMV:


http://www.dmvnow.com/webdoc/citizen/drivers/renewing.asp?pf=y

Once you are 80 then every 5 years when you need to renew your license you have to have your eyes tested. Under 80 you still have renew your license every 5 years but only have to take vision test every 10 years.

:lol: for off the top of my head, I was close. I swear I have never been able to renew online because I have to have my vision checked, maybe it is because I wear glasses? Who knows, point is, they check your eyes in relation to your license to drive.

glassdragon
10-11-06, 11:02 PM
count ohio in that one. Every year i have to get a new prescription.

Lonestar9
10-12-06, 11:52 AM
It's been like this in SC for as long as I can remember...if I want new contacts/glasses, I have to get an eye exam yearly to do so. I'm use to it, and I admit my vision insurance helps a lot, but it does irratate me a lot too.

Mr. Salty
10-12-06, 09:02 PM
So the poor are just hosed if their glasses break, huh?
That's what Medicaid, etc., is for.

Glasses and contacts are medical devices, and vision changes over time, necessitating a new prescription from time to time. And there are other eye-related ailments that need to be checked periodically. How long do you suggest a vision prescription be valid for?

Duran
10-12-06, 10:24 PM
That's what Medicaid, etc., is for.

Glasses and contacts are medical devices, and vision changes over time, necessitating a new prescription from time to time. And there are other eye-related ailments that need to be checked periodically. How long do you suggest a vision prescription be valid for?

For eternity, for all I care. Why does it need to expire? Is using glasses with an outdated prescription somehow worse than not using glasses at all? And the fact that there are other eye related ailments is irrelevant. You don't believe everyone should have a mandatory physical every year, do you?

And I'm glad you think the taxpayers should have to pay for a service the person might not even want. That's good policy! :thumbsup:

coladar
10-13-06, 02:43 AM
Yeah, there's a bit of a problem with this idea that yearly exams are a good thing. What is that, you ask? It's up to the DOCTOR! If my eye doctor says, hey, everythings great, your prescription hasn't changed, come back in 2-3 years. Are you saying a legislature made up of politicians knows better than my personal doctor that has been seeing me for years? No, and *that's* the problem with this law. Your doctor tells you when to come back, not politicians.

Mr. Salty
10-13-06, 05:12 AM
Why does it need to expire?Here's what the Texas board that licenses optometrists has to say on why prescriptions expire after a year, from the FAQ on their Web site:

Contact lenses are a medical device which need monitoring by your eye doctor. Although the risk of complication to an individual patient is small, it is real. 6% of contact lens wearers will have a complication annually. It is important that diagnosis and treatment of complications happen rapidly to prevent vision loss
(snip)
It is important that contact lens patients be seen at least once a year by their eye doctor. Annual eye health evaluations by your eye doctor can pick up small problems with your eyes or vision that you can't feel or see. Unlike glasses, contact lenses are foreign objects that rest and move around on the surface of the eye, therefore there is a higher potential for serious eye problems. Additionally, changes in your health, medications, home or work environment can affect the way a contact lens interacts with your eye health.

You don't believe everyone should have a mandatory physical every year, do you?
Annual eye exams in Virginia are not mandatory. They are only required if you want to extend your prescription for new contact lenses or glasses.

And yes, if you want to continue a prescription for a medicine or other doctor-prescribed medical device, I do think the patient should be checked periodically to make sure the prescription continues to be correct for that patient. It's dangerous not to. A year seems reasonable.

And I'm glad you think the taxpayers should have to pay for a service the person might not even want.
I don't think the taxpayer should have to pay for people's medical care. I think people should have jobs and private health insurance. But Medicaid does exist for people who can't otherwise afford health care. I didn't invent the system.

Compared to other medical expenses, even basic physicals, eye exams don't cost all that much --- in my experience $70 to $100. It's an expense most people can afford.

Of course, there are plenty of people who think nothing of paying $15 a month for Netflix, $60 a month for cable and god knows how much for other nonessentials, but who balk at paying a doctor once a year to make sure they're healthy.

It would be negligent of the medical profession --- optometrist, dentist or any other doctor --- to issue prescriptions in perpetuity for any kind of medical device, drug, etc., even something as seemingly harmless as glasses or especially contact lenses.

It's up to the DOCTOR! If my eye doctor says, hey, everythings great, your prescription hasn't changed, come back in 2-3 years.
If your doctor says it's safe for you to go for three years without being checked, you aren't going to a very good doctor. Next time you go to your optometrist, ask him and let us know what he says.