I have worn glasses since I was in the fifth grade and had been going to the same optometrist for almost twenty years when they were bought out by a large corporation. This was not apparent at first, the name was the same, same building, same doctor, same employee’s but they were no longer an independent operation; they were now part of a large (well hidden) corporation.
On my first visit after the change my long time Dr (call him Dr A) was really pitching laser surgery. Pitching it so hard that I eventually found out from him about the corporate buy-out and that the new corp is heavy into laser surgery.
Me: So…if laser surgery is so great why haven’t you had it done? (Dr A wears glasses).
Dr A: Well…if your eyes are changing then the surgery will only be effective until your prescription changes.
Me: (At the time my scrip changed every two years) So basically I would be spending a grand or two so I wouldn’t have to wear glasses or contacts for about two years?
Seeing that I was not biting on the laser surgery we precede with the exam. He tests my intraocular pressure (IOP) and it turns out I have high fluid pressure in my eyes which could lead to optical nerve damage and permanent vision loss…very heavy stuff indeed. He suggests eye drops to lower the pressure and, when asked, tells me I would have to use the drops once a day for the rest of my life. I really don’t want to start a medical regimen that will last my entire life so I ask if there is any other method we can try.
He tests my peripheral vision and tells me there is no damage to the optic nerves yet but untreated it could be a problem. He tells me that a consulting doctor was going to be in next Friday and why don’t I stop by on Friday and the other doctor can double check his findings – no charge.
I stop by next Friday and the “consulting” doctor is a doctor from corporate who starts a sales pitch about laser eye surgery, how it’s the greatest thing in the world and I would be a fool not to have it done. I explain that I have already decided not to have laser surgery done as my prescription was constantly changing and that I had been asked to come here because of a problem with my IOP. He tests the IOP, says it is high and if I do not want to use the eye drops I should have yearly peripheral vision tests to make sure the optic nerves are not being damaged (he has lost all interest in talking to me at this point…actually more at the point I told him I wasn’t interested in the laser surgery).
A few weeks go by and I receive an $80 consultation bill direct from corporate. I write a letter telling them that any billing should be directed to Dr A at “his company” and I send the letter and a copy of the bill to the corporate address and to Dr A (plus calling Dr A to let him know what happened and what I was doing – he said it was just a clerical error).
So that goes away but I had bought a new pair of glasses while I was there. About a month after receiving the glasses one of the lenses cracks for no apparent reason. I call and they say the frames must have been too tight, send in the glasses and they will fix it. I send them in and they send me a new pair…which cracks for no reason a few weeks later. Call again, send it in again, get a new pair and THEY crack a month later.
Between the sales pitch, the billing for a free consultation and three pairs of worthless glasses I have had it with this place. I call and complain and I am so pissed I don’t even ask for a refund, I just tell them I will buy glasses elsewhere (and I bought a set at Wal-Mart that were still good four years later when changing prescriptions made me replace them).
A year goes by and I want to schedule an appointment at a different eye doctor because quite frankly I am still freaking out about the high IOP and possible permanent vision loss. I call Dr A’s office to get a copy of my records…only to be told that they have no record that I was ever a patient there. Remember, this is the place I had been going to since I was in fifth grade; I had been a patient there for almost twenty years! Dr A no longer works there and no one else seems to be able to recall ever having seen me before.
Extremely pissed I make an appointment at a new place and tell the optometrist about the high IOP, needing yearly peripheral vision checks, etc., etc. She checks and tells me my IOP is well within the normal range. She does the peripheral vision test just in case and that’s all fine too. It’s been ten years or so now and still not any problem with high IOP.
If you made it through this entire story, congratulations! Sorry it was so long but I felt a need to vent even thought this all happened in the “distant” past!
tldr: Independent optometrist bought out by a corporation, aggressive sales pitch for laser surgery, billing for free consultation, twenty years of medical records miss-placed and never found, problem with my eyes that could cause permanent vision loss that turns out to not be true.