Suppose we told you Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony is a masterpiece, and we wanted to share it with you. You say okay, and we then proceed to hand you the orchestral score. Unless you’re a musician, you probably wouldn’t get much out of it. To judge the symphony, you’d need to hear it performed.
In a way, the relationship between a musical score and its performance is similar to the relationship between a prescription and a pair of glasses. A musical masterpiece is locked inside the sheet of music, but only the performance can release it for the listener’s enjoyment. The prescription you write for a patient is also a “masterpiece,” but to the patient, it’s a piece of paper. It takes a great pair of glasses for them to benefit from what’s written on that piece of paper.
Just as a musical score depends on the quality of the performance, a prescription depends on the quality of the eyeglasses that result from it. A listener can come away from a bad concert with a poor impression of Beethoven. A cheap or poorly fit pair of progressives will leave a patient dissatisfied with their visual experience, and it may give the patient a bad impression of the doctor who wrote it.
Patients have many options for buying eyeglasses, some of which are low-priced and low-quality. The only way to ensure the prescription you wrote results in the best visual outcome is to encourage the patient to purchase their eyewear in your optical, where the quality of the product and fitting process is controlled. And like the doctor, you are in the best position to do that.
This is an argument for recommending specific lenses in the exam room and making a firm hand-off to a dispenser. A recommendation from the doctor will be stronger than one from anyone else in the practice. The doctor’s voice is the most authoritative, and only the doctor can make the recommendation in the medical context of the exam room. And that’s entirely appropriate because it’s the best way to ensure that the patient gets the best vision from your prescription.
Some doctors keep their distance from dispensing because they draw a line between the medical and the commercial side of the business. But eyeglass lenses are medical devices, and the patient’s visual experience is a medical outcome. Recommending lenses you trust is the only way to ensure patients leave your office with the best vision possible.