IECP examining eyes.

Are You Meeting Your Ethical Obligation to Your Patients?

From the optometric oath: “I WILL advise my patients fully and honestly of all which may serve to restore, maintain or enhance their vision and general health.”

How many of your contact lens patients do you believe should have back up glasses? How often do you make that recommendation to your contact lens wearers? How many of your contacts lens patients actually follow your advice and purchase those much needed backups from you? What information did you provide to show them not only the need but a way to fulfill that need?

How many of your patients do you believe would benefit from prescription sunglasses? Have you talked to patients about the damage that can be done to their eyes by UV or Blue Light exposure? Are you able to show them a path to affordable prescription or nonprescription sunglasses through your office?

When a patient asks for a prescription, do you hand it over, or do you stop to let them know that when they buy glasses online or through some retail outlets they are more likely to have errors in PD, seg height, and optical center height which might cause poor vision, nausea or other negative health effects? Do you take the time to talk to them about the importance of vision health, and let them know that you can provide an affordable option?

How many more of your patients would follow your recommendation for backup glasses, sunglasses or occupational lenses if you had a more affordable option and they knew about it? What about those who buy glasses from retail or online? How many more of those would rather buy from you if they thought or knew you had an affordable option?

Many doctors don’t want to discuss vision plans or the cost of glasses with patients.They are hoping their patients will pay cash at their usual and customary charge and they won’t have to discuss prices at all. Some don’t start this conversation because they want to focus on doing the exam, others have other reasons, but the results are often the same. The doctor performs the eye exam, writes a prescription, and then hopes the patient chooses a frame from their in house optique and places an order. But, by not taking the time to educate patients about the dangers of online retail, the benefits of prescription sunglasses, and the vital importance of backup glasses for contacts wearers, not only is money walking out the door, but, far more importantly, the patient isn’t receiving the medical service they came in for and you may not be meeting your ethical obligation to your patient.

In practice, providing information about money well spent might seem like a sales pitch, but sales and service are two sides of the same coin. No one likes the stereotypical used car salesperson and doctors don’t want to be perceived in that light either. Having affordable options that don’t sacrifice margin or offering your patients an individual vision plan that lets them spread out the cost and get what they need, creates happy patients and long term relationships. These approaches also ensure that you get to provide more services that meet your patient’s needs while at the same time helping you fulfill your ethical responsibility.

If you take the time to educate patients on what steps they can take to reach optimum vision and eye health and provide them mechanisms to receive that care from you, everybody wins. Part of the optometric oath speaks directly to this point. “I WILL advise my patients fully and honestly of all which may serve to restore, maintain or enhance their vision and general health.” meeting that obligation requires another step- giving them ways to afford the treatment option you know they need and deserve.

Vision Care Direct and VCD Labs were created to help you take the best possible care of your patients, meet your ethical obligation and do it in a way that protects your practice and your bottom line. Let us help you meet your mission without sacrificing quality, service or profitability.


Do you have a story to share of how you met your optometric oath by educating a patient? Please leave your comment below.


Dr. RailsbackDr. Don Railsback, Chief Operations Officer at Independent Eye Care Professionals, after practicing for twenty years in Kansas, focused his attention on creating tools to help other optometrists retain their independence in a market that is actively working against them.

Comments 1

  1. Raymond J Brill, OD, MBA, FAAO, FOAA

    Great point, Don. Patients come to us for advice and recommendations. It is the Dr’s role to not be wishy washy or give a menu of items for the patient to chose from. You would not expect your dentist to ask you what type of X-rays you want or what type of amalgam you prefer. Be bold with your recommendations. As long as the Rx is in the patient’s best interest, you can feel confident you are doing a good job for your patient. The buying journey starts with information from you and your staff. While monetary decisions and insurance may come into play, you will be held in higher regard by the patient for giving your best advice. That’s why they come to us in addition to asking “Dr. Google.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *