Optometry is a healthcare profession dedicated to the care of eyes, focusing on vision services such as eye exams and prescriptions. However, human error and the complex nature of vision correction can sometimes lead to an incorrect prescription. This article will explore if and how an optometrist might get your prescription wrong.

This blog post is among a series of articles on the topic of Optometry Doctor vs Ophthalmology Doctor. Please also check out this popular and topically relevant post: How many years is Ophthalmology residency?

Understanding Optometry and the Role of Optometrists

A doctor of optometry examines the eyes for both health and visual issues and prescribes glasses and contacts to treat refractive errors. They are there to ensure you receive the proper prescription for your visual matters. However, they may error and provide you with glasses or contact lens prescriptions that may only partially resolve your vision problems correctly.

The Eye Exam and Prescription Process

The process begins with a comprehensive eye exam where the optometrist tests your vision and checks for possible eye health issues. The result of this exam is your prescription for glasses or contact lenses. The prescription details the lens power necessary to correct your vision, which can differ for each eye.

An optometrist uses a phoropter or a similar machine to determine the lens strength required for your prescription glasses or contact lens. Although largely accurate, this process depends on patient feedback, introducing the potential for error. For example, if a patient misinterprets the optometrist’s questions, gives incorrect responses, or struggles with communication, the prescription could be wrong.

The Consequences of Wrong Prescription Glasses

When an optometrist gives a wrong prescription, it can result in various problems. The new glasses or contact lenses might cause eye strain, leading to headaches, blurred vision, or dizziness. Multifocal lenses, in particular, can cause issues if incorrectly prescribed, as they correct vision at multiple distances. You might notice that only one eye sees clearly, while the other is blurry.

Time to Adjust to New Glasses – The adjustment period for a New Pair of Glasses or Contact Lenses

After receiving a new pair of glasses or a new prescription, there might be a period of discomfort or mild strain as your eyes adjust. This is normal. However, if this continues for over a week, it may indicate an incorrect prescription.

How to Handle a Possible Incorrect Prescription

If you suspect your prescription is wrong, the first step is to return to the optometrist or an optician, a professional who fits and sells corrective lenses based on an optometrist’s prescription. They will verify whether the glasses or contact lenses match the prescribed specifications.

The prescription might be wrong if the eyeglass or contact lens specifications are correct. In this case, you should book another eye exam with your optometrist to re-evaluate your vision.

Strain and Dizziness as Key Indicators

When you have a wrong prescription, your eyes often have to overcompensate for the lenses’ incorrect focus. This compensation can lead to eye strain, which can present as a sense of fatigue or irritation in your eyes or even headaches. Multifocal lenses, designed to correct vision at different distances, can lead to even more pronounced symptoms when incorrectly prescribed, as they can cause blurred vision and dizziness.

Importance of Accurate Prescription for One Eye or Both

It’s crucial to understand that the needs of one eye can be different from the other. Each eye can have distinct refractive errors, requiring individual consideration during an eye exam. If the prescription of one eye is incorrect while the other is accurate, it could lead to disorienting vision problems, further emphasizing the need for precision in optometry.

Optician’s Role in Ensuring Correct Prescription

An optician plays an integral role in ensuring the correct execution of the optometrist’s prescription. First, they measure your eyes and face to fit your eyeglasses or contact lenses correctly. Suppose you suspect your prescription glasses or lenses are causing discomfort. In that case, your optician can check if the specs match the optometrist’s prescription and suggest a revisit to the optometrist if necessary.

The Imperfection of Human Processes

Despite the advanced technology and expertise in optometry, there’s always a risk of human error leading to a wrong prescription. Patient feedback during an eye exam can occasionally be inaccurate due to misunderstanding or miscommunication. The optometrist could also make a mistake during the examination process. Awareness of these possibilities can help you understand the importance of clear communication during your eye exam.

Closing Thoughts

While it’s possible for an optometrist to make mistakes, remember that they’re part of a broader vision health network designed to ensure your eyes are well-cared for. If your new prescription doesn’t seem to improve your vision or causes discomfort, reach out to your optician or optometrist. Your vision health is a team effort, and it’s essential to communicate your concerns so that any necessary corrections can be made