Over the past few years, the contact lens wearing community has been bombarded with advertising promising low prices and convenient “to your door shipping” from online vendors of contact lenses trying to convince patients to buy their contacts online rather than the tried and true method of ordering through your trusted eye doctor. Despite the sometimes convincing pitches these sites make, there are a number of advantages to buying from your trusted family optometrist that you give up when buying online, because these online stores are either unwilling or unable to deliver the same level of service. Below, Dr. Thomas Beck of Precision Eye Doctors in Kennewick, Washington outlines some of the major advantages of ordering through your optometrist:
The Power of Rebates
One of the mainstays of advertising for online contact lens retailers is the promise of low prices and great deals. The claim is that you are unable to get the same low prices if you order from your optometrist. The offer sounds great, for sure, but ultimately proves to be quite false. The truth is, while the original price on some online sites may give the appearance of lower prices, the bottom-line often ends up costing you more than ordering from your eye doctor's office would have. Many eye doctors have the ability to redeem special rebates for their patients, allowing eye doctors to cut costs for you at the bottom-line. Online services are often unaware of these rebates or will ask their customers to redeem these rebates on their own. Many people will not know where or how to redeem these rebates, losing money they would have been able to save by buying in-office.
Open Box Policy
Prescriptions change, and quite often at that. That's simply how it is. However, for those unfortunate enough to have ordered their contact lenses online, if they have already opened the box, they are now stuck with these lenses, even though the contact lenses are no longer the correct prescription. Options at that point are either to continue with contacts that don't provide proper vision (which can sometimes be dangerous for purposes such as driving), or pay for brand new contact lenses all over again to fill the new prescription. And then just hope that their prescription doesn't change again.
On the other hand, most, if not all, optometric offices will have an “open box policy” on contact lenses bought from them. This means that if your prescription changes, you simply come to your eye doctor's office and exchange the old prescription for your updated one, for free, even if the box is already open.
Personal Relationships and Expertise
Perhaps the most important difference between buying online and buying in-office comes down your optometrist's role is, compared to the online vendor's, and how each sees you.
The role of your eye doctor is mainly to help you see your best and to help you safeguard your overall eye health and visual comfort, in the best and most comfortable way possible. A big part of fulfilling this role is getting to know each and every patient one on one and maintaining that personal connection in a way that encourages an ongoing dialogue about the patient's needs and long term visual health. In contrast, you are unlikely to have any personal relationship at all with the anonymous customer service representative at an online contact lens retailer, and said customer service rep is almost certainly without the proper training to understand your vital visual health needs as they relate to your contact lenses.
Your eye doctor maintains a relationship centered on your overall visual health, while an online contact lens retailer maintains a relationship centered around your wallet and takes no responsibility for your overall eye health.
Eye infection or dry eyes that result from your contact lenses are more likely to be addressed successfully by speaking to a professional, trained and educated eye doctor with whom you have a personal relationship, rather than by speaking to a customer service agent whom you have never, and likely will never, meet, and who is there solely to fill orders and nothing more.