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New Jersey State Board of Optometristts
Frequently Asked Questions
for Consumers

General Questions:

Patient Record Questions:

    1. How long is an optometrist required to keep patient records?
    2. Am I entitled to a copy of my patient record?
    3. Can an optometrist charge a fee for the reproduction of patient records?

Contact Lens Questions:

    1. Can an optometrist release my contact lens prescription if I had an eye examination for contact lenses but haven't completed the fitting process?
    2. When can an optometrist release a patient's contact lens prescription?
    3. When does a contact lens prescription expire?
    4. Do I need additional testing prior to my optometrist providing me with a contact lens prescription?
    5. Am I required to pay a fee in addition to the fee for a routine eye health exam and eyeglass prescription for contact lens fitting, refitting or evaluation?
    6. Does my vision care or medical insurance pay for contact lens fitting?
    7. Can I purchase my contact lenses through any contact lens seller?
    8. Can my optometrist require that I purchase contact lenses from him/her?
    9. Can I purchase/order contact lenses other than what is specified on my prescription?
    10. In the event that I receive contact lenses other than what was prescribed, do I have any recourse?

Eyeglass Questions:

    1. When can an optometrist release a patient's eyeglass prescription?
    2. Is an optometrist required to include the "pupillary distance" on an eyeglass prescription?



General Questions:

1. What does the initials "O.D." mean after the name of an optometrist?

The initials "O.D." stands for Doctor of Optometry which is the degree obtained by an optometrist upon graduation from an accredited College of Optometry.


Patient Record Questions

1. How long is an optometrist required to keep patient records?

New Jersey licensed optometrist must maintain records for a period of not less than seven years from the date of the most recent entry.

2. Am I entitled to a copy of my patient record?

Yes. The patient record, or a copy thereof, shall be released in a timely manner upon written request, to the patient, the patient's authorized representative, or to another optometrist or physician acting on behalf of the patient.

3. Can an optometrist charge a fee for the reproduction of patient records?

Yes. An optometrist may charge a fee for the reproduction of records, which shall be no greater than $.50 per page or $100.00 for the entire record, whichever is less. If the record requested is 10 pages, the optometrist may charge up to $10.00 to cover postage and the miscellaneous costs associated with retrieval of the record.


Contact Lens Questions

1. Can an optometrist release my contact lens prescription if I had an eye examination for contact lenses but haven't completed the fitting process?

No. A contact lens prescription is not complete unless and until a patient has been fitted for the contact lens being prescribed and the fit has been fully evaluated over at least one follow-up visit and determined to be satisfactory.

2. When can an optometrist release a patient's contact lens prescription?

An optometrist shall, free of charge, release a copy of a patient's contact lens prescription directly to the patient upon completion of the contact lens fitting. An optometrist shall, free of charge, release a copy of the patient's contact lens prescription directly to a licensed ophthalmologist, optometrist, or ophthalmic dispenser upon either the oral or written request of a patient.

3. When does a contact lens prescription expire?

Federal regulations stipulate a contact lens prescription is valid for one year. Once the optometrist has arrived at your final contact lens prescription, your optometrist can indicate an expiration date based upon your eye health status on the written prescription. That expiration date may be less than one year.

4. Do I need additional testing prior to my optometrist providing me with a contact lens prescription?

Testing is required, beyond the scope of a routine eye health examination and issuance of an eyeglass prescription, for cosmetic contact lenses.

New Contact lens wearer, the optometrist must evaluate and record the contact lens performance on the eye. The patient must be taught contact lens placement, removal, care and be given a wearing schedule. Typically, the recommended solutions and a contact lens case are provided. At lease a one-week follow-up is required before the contact lens prescription is released.

Current contact lens wearer, the optometrist must evaluate and record the contact lens performance, condition and associated vision prior to issuing a new prescription.

Medical eye health problems such as Keratoconus (odd shaped corneas) and Anisometropia (large prescription differences between the eyes) may require many addition visits and special contact lens constructions.

5. Am I required to pay a fee in addition to the fee for a routine eye health exam and eyeglass prescription for contact lens fitting, refitting or evaluation?

Almost all providers charge an additional fee for the fitting and evaluation of contact lenses. This may be expressed as a contact lens fit/refitting fee or as a different price for the routine eye examination and the eye exam for the contact lens wearer.

6. Does my vision care or medical insurance pay for contact lens fitting?

In rare instances, cosmetic contact lens fitting may be paid for by your vision care insurance.

Some vision care insurances and some medical insurances have benefits toward contact lenses that are medically required. Typically, the patient must have vision that is not correctable with eyeglasses.

Medical eye health problems such as Keratoconus (odd shape corneas) and Anisometropia (large prescription differences between the eyes) may require many additional visits and special contact lens constructions.

7. Can I purchase my contact lenses through any contact lens seller?

With a written contact lens prescription, you can purchase your contact lenses through any licensed or registered contact lens seller.

8. Can my optometrist require that I purchase contact lenses from him/her?

After the contact lens fitting/evaluation is finalized, your optometrist CANNOT require that you purchase the contact lenses nor the supply of contact lenses from him/her.

9. Can I purchase/order contact lenses other than what is specified on my prescription?

Your contact lens prescription has been determined to be safe for your eyes. The prescription includes, at least, the brand/type, curves, diameter and power. The contact lens vendor is obligated to follow the prescription as a pharmacist is obligated to follow a medication prescription. In many instances, if a colored contact lens is prescribed, the patient may choose an alternate color.

10. In the event that I receive contact lenses other than what was prescribed, do I have any recourse?

First, contact your contact lens supplier. If you find the supplier to be unresponsive, you may contact the New Jersey State Board of Optometrists or the New Jersey State Board of Ophthalmic Dispensers and Ophthalmic Technicians at 124 Halsey Street, 6th Floor, Newark, New Jersey 07101.


Eyeglass Questions

1. When can an optometrist release a patient's eyeglass prescription?

After the completion of a patient's comprehensive eye examination, and upon the patient's request, a copy of the patient's prescription for eyeglasses shall be given, free of charge, to the patient or to another optometrist, ophthalmologist, or ophthalmic dispenser acting on the patient's behalf.

2. Is an optometrist required to include the "pupillary distance" on an eyeglass prescription?

No. An optometrist is not required to include the interpupillary distance and height segment measurements on an eyeglass prescription.

In the past all spectacle lenses were made of the same index of refraction (density), same center, edge thickness and the same style. All of the patients facial anatomical measurements were taken with a millimeter ruler at the time of the eye examination. With the explosion of new frame designs, lens materials and technologies, the old measurement system is no longer remotely adequate. Proper placement of the appropriate aspect of the lens in front of the patients pupil is critically important for today's technologically more advanced spectacle lense and frame materials. Special instrumentation and devices are required to ensure the prescription lenses will function properly for the patient. The measurements must be made relative to the eyeglass frame selected. Therefore, the patient must be measured by the seller and/or the dispenser of the eyeglass frame. The optometrist cannot assume any responsibility for the proper prescription being misplaced in front of the pupil due to the configuration of the frame, the lens style or material chosen by the patient. Not all lenses are created equal and there are many technological differences.

Pupillary distance, "PD", refers to the measured distance between the patients pupils, and is taken for at least far and near viewing distances. Today's lenses require precise horizontal and vertical placement of the lens selected by the patient. These measurements are effected by the lens and frame shape, size and use (driving, computer or reading) of the prescription. Therefore, the patient must be measured by the seller and/or dispenser of the eyeglass frame.

Segment height, bifocal, trifocal or progressive lenses, refers to the height or placement of the near viewing (intermediate or reading portion) of the lens. Most lens manufacturers have a fitting guide to ensure the lens is positioned for maximum viewing efficiency with minimum of peripheral distortion. Therefore, the patient must be measured by the seller and the dispenser of the eyeglass frame.

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