Can you see me now?

By Mir
January 27, 2010

My baby would forgive me if she ended up going blind because I couldn’t figure out what the hell her various eye care professionals were smoking, right? I’m sure she would. I mean, it’s not like she’s ever mad at me about things that aren’t even my fault, or like she overreacts to the smallest provocation, or…


Holy crap, I’m doomed. I may as well hand her a voodoo doll and a white cane for her birthday this year, I think.

Perhaps it’s my fault. (Oh, who am I kidding? OF COURSE it’s my fault.) I should’ve taken her to her last eye appointment. But the yearly trek into Atlanta to see the Pediatric Wonky Eyes Specialist involves, you know, driving into Atlanta, and I try very hard not to do that if I don’t have to. So I’d suckered Otto into taking her, and I thought everything was all set.

I’d asked Otto to call beforehand to tell them that Chickadee wears contacts now, and to ask if she should wear them to her appointment, or at least bring them to her appointment. She needed to have her eyes dilated, so they recommended glasses. Fine. I gave Otto all of her contact lens information and asked him to please make sure we had what was needed for an updated lens prescription. They went and all was well and Chickadee came home with a new prescription.

Now, let me back up for a minute. Last year she had her exam and then we went to a local place covered under my ex’s vision insurance (this will be a salient point in a little bit, I swear) to get her fitted for contacts. She had an exam and had a few pairs of trial lenses before the doctor said Yes, that’s it, go ahead and order. Apparently there’s a bit of guesswork involved in corrective lenses when you’re squishing them onto your eyeballs instead of just wearing them on your face. Anyway. We got her lenses and all was well.

This particular vision insurance, by the way, allows service once a year… and by the time we’d gotten through the trial pairs and actually placed an order, it was nearly March. Which means that we don’t qualify for coverage again THIS year for over a month.

About a week ago Chickadee stopped wearing her contacts. She went back to her glasses all the time, and the first few days I just figured she was being lazy and/or tired, but after about four days I asked her if she was ever planning to wear her contacts again. “Oh, I’m out of contacts,” she said, as if it should’ve been obvious.

We then had one of my very favorite mother-daughter discussions, the one about how I’M NOT PSYCHIC and I am generally better able to assist you when I’m actually informed that you need something.

Well. No problem; we could just go ahead and order a couple boxes of contacts and pay for them out-of-pocket, and then order the rest once the vision insurance allows it in a month or so. Right?


Apparently the way they do the prescription for contacts is also vastly different than the way they do it for glasses. So part of the “fitting” process (and I remembered this, vaguely) was the doctor fine-tuning the prescription based upon Chickadee’s propensity towards eye-crossing. Her prescription was tweaked until there was no sign of her eyes going rogue, and that resulted in something very different than what was originally prescribed.

Hey, I don’t pretend to understand it. Something to do with the angle of somethingorother from cornea to lens, which is, you know, ZERO in the case of contacts, but a few inches with glasses, and… look, I’m not an optometrist. All I know is that if her original prescription said something like:
The modified contact lens prescription was then:

To which my response is pretty much: Buh? Okay!

I called the place where we got her lenses the last time, and it was like a freakin’ Laurel and Hardy skit. I explained that we had a new prescription and I wanted to know if she needed to be refitted for new lenses.

Receptionist: So you have a new contact lens prescription? You can just bring that in and we’ll order the lenses.
Me: No, we just have a new prescription. A new glasses prescription, I think.
Receptionist: So you want to order glasses.
Me: No, we want to order contacts.
Receptionist: You need a contact prescription for that.
Me: I know, but last time she was fitted for lenses based upon the glasses prescription.
Receptionist: Oh, she’s gotten lenses here before?
Me: Yes.
Receptionist: Well then we can just look those up and order those again.
Me: Right, but now she has a new prescription.
Receptionist: But we can order the old one. It’s valid until the end of February.
Me: But she has a new prescription. Don’t I want the updated prescription rather than last year’s…?
Receptionist: But do you have an updated contact lens prescription?
Me: No, I told you, I have a glasses prescription. Does she need to be fitted again?
Receptionist: We can order the old ones without another fitting.
Me: Can you order the NEW ones based upon the previous fitting and the new prescription?
Receptionist: Not unless it’s a contact prescription.
Me: It’s not—oy. Look. It sounds like she needs to have a new fitting. That’s fine, I’d be happy to make an appointment and bring her in. Can we do that?
Receptionist: Well who did she see last time she was here?
Me: Dr. Nice.
Receptionist: Oh, he’s not here anymore. His contract expired.
Receptionist: So she can’t see him.
Me: Okay…? Was he replaced?
Receptionist: Oh yes, of course.
Me: Can we make an appointment with the new doctor?
Receptionist: For an exam? Sure!
Me: No, not an exam. She’s HAD an exam. Just for a fitting.
Receptionist: Oh! No, we can’t do that.
Receptionist: He doesn’t do contact lenses.
Me: He doesn’t “do” contact lenses? You guys are an authorized 1-800-CONTACTS retailer. How is that even possible?
Receptionist: Yes, we are. But right now we don’t have any doctors who do contacts.
Me: You don’t… nevermind. Okay. How about THIS—I’ll call the doctor who did her exam and see if I can get a contact prescription. How about that? Would that work?
Receptionist: Oh, certainly.
Me: Great. Thank you.

At this point I was already feeling a good bit of dread, but then I went ahead and called the Fancypants Pediatric Wonky Eyes Specialist in Atlanta.

Receptionist: How may I help you?
Me: Hi, my daughter is a patient of Dr. Fancypants’ and was just there for an exam last month. She got a new prescription, but it was for glasses, and she wears contacts. The place we got her contacts before will no longer fit her for contacts, so I was wondering if there was any way for Dr. Fancypants to maybe look at her old prescription and her new one and figure out what her new contact prescription should be?
Me: I know it sounds crazy. I don’t quite understand.
Receptionist: You should be able to take the glasses prescription in and they’ll figure it out.
Me: You’d think so, yes. But no. They no longer do that, apparently.
Receptionist: Well can you go somewhere else?
Me: Uh, maybe, except then we’re off our vision insurance AND we have to pay for a whole new exam.
Receptionist: Oh.
Me: Listen, I’m sure I told my husband to tell Dr. Fancypants that Chickadee wears contacts now. Surely he can figure out her correct contacts prescription and fax it over? Or tell us if she can keep wearing the old prescription and just update her glasses…? She’s been doing fine with the contacts, really, it’s just that she’s out.
Receptionist: Well, I just don’t know. They should be able to use the prescription we gave you.
Receptionist: Well I suppose I can talk to Dr. Fancypants.
Me: Could you? That would be great. I don’t quite know what to do, here.
Receptionist: I mean they should be able to—

So, yeah, my day has been pretty awesome so far. And if it gets to having to explain to my kid that she’s just going to have to suck it up and see blurry for a while, well, THAT’s going to make it even better….


  1. Megan

    What if you train Licorice to be a seeing eye dog? That would probably be easier now that I think about it…

  2. Mary

    Oy! What is it with eye doctors? This sounds eerily familiar to what I went through a year ago for my contacts though I didn’t have your patience to actually write it all down!

    Hubby was supposed to go earlier this month but because the eye doctor said he needed a referral and our PC doctor said we didn’t and they couldn’t get their acts together, we had to cancel.

  3. joaaanna

    Duuuuuude. I am so confused.

    So if they have THAT prescription, but need THIS prescription and carry the two and x = 7 and Bus A leaves at 13 o’clock, then shouldn’t that mean…? I give up.

    I’ll just say… I hope everything works out!!!! GOOD LUCK!

  4. GrandeMocha

    I love the healthcare/insurance dance! Where nothing gets done but everybody is doing their job.

  5. Alicia

    I feel your pain. I wear disposal torics for astigmatism and go through basically the same confusion every year and still end up spending over $500…I should mention I can’t even see the big E (that cute -1.75 that chickadee has is a -8 here)

  6. Summer

    I spent about two hours on the phone recently, trying to confirm that my health insurance includes vision coverage. And it does! For one exam every year! Hooray! More calling around, and I got an appointment with a doctor at an optical place that takes my insurance. (Did I mention I’d run out of contacts, and my prescription had expired? Yeah. Grown-ups do it, too.) I had my appointment, got my new (exactly the same) prescription for contacts, and discovered that my vision insurance meant that I got a whopping $15 off the cost of the appointment. Wow. That was totally worth the effort.

    On the plus side, the new optical place didn’t urge me to buy my contacts through them, so instead of spending $400 on a year’s supply, I bought them online from Coastal Contacts for a little over $100. And I’m not even going to TRY to get any reimbursement from my insurance.

  7. Randi

    I personally think that all health care professionals should be required to anonymously speak with their customer service people so that they can see what their patients are truly dealing with when they call in! My eye doctor was TICKED at his receptionist when she didn’t tell me to bring in the contacts I’d been trying out to my “these didn’t work, let’s try another pair” appt. He literally left the room and I heard him (very quietly) tell her off.

    But yeah, docs should be required to talk to their receptionists, don’t you think?

  8. Ani


    I’m sorry, vision insurance makes my head spin. We have three household members in glasses, two of them also in contacts, and our insurance pays a whopping $25 per YEAR per person for exams…and another whopping $25/year for glasses or contacts. Seriously, why even bother. Luckily, though, our local “insurance” provider does both and is an excellent lady to boot.

    If it had not been for your awesomeness finding Zenni optical for glasses, and 1-800-Contacts, I’d be living in the poorhouse. But with perfect corrected vision. :-P

  9. Laura

    Whew — that wore me out just reading it.

  10. kpattillo

    My husband went in for an exam which was covered under insurance. But they only paid for the refraction for his glasses not the contacts. So there was an extra $50 charge which isn’t much but was still confusing if you wear contacts but still need a new pair of bifocal glasses. As an added plus, our insurance starts over at the beginning of the year instead of when you last got a prescription. So I only had to wait until January 1st to get contacts where they paid for half of the $356 charge. Good luck.

  11. Beth B.

    Good grief – DUDE! that gave me a headache just thinking about dealing with all that. waaaayyyy too complicated. Hope it works out and you get the new contacts. I mean SHEESH; that’s not that complicated of a request I think. :-)

  12. Half Assed Kitchen

    My whole life is a Laurel and Hardy skit. :)

  13. Hip Mom's Guide

    Ah, one of my favorites..”They SHOULD be able to…” or is it “THEY should be able to…” Either way. Good luck.

  14. Jess

    Oh, that sounds JUST like my experience getting a hearing exam for your daughter. “I need a referral from her doctor.” “Hi, this is her doctor’s office; the audiologist doesn’t need a referral.” But they SAID….

    Yeah. Who’s on first?

  15. Fabs

    Un-frickin-believable! Do you have any hair left?

  16. Sheila

    But wait- shouldn’t they just be able to use the prescription?


  17. Tracy

    After all of the doctor stories you’ve told, I’m alittle concerned about the overall healthcare profession in your state. This Dr. Fancypants and Dr. Nice and who was the allergist guy..anyway, it seems none of them actually listen to the patient or the mom’s. I’m so sorry! They really should be able to do that, you know! j/k

  18. Karishma

    hahahaha. dear lord, i am sorry. but dude. order directly from 1800contacts! get your insurance to cover THAT, and save yourself the grief. punch in the prescription and they call your doctors office to confirm it for you. it’s basically no work. and cheaper, 99% of the time, and sometimes they usually have $20-$40 rebates on top of their already less-expensive prices, AND Discover was doing a 15% cashback, last time i checked. i ended up with year’s worth of contacts for $100, all told.

    annnd now i sound like an ad for them. but really, if it weren’t so easy to get the lenses from them, i’d probably be in glasses all the time. :)

  19. Katie in MA

    If it does come to that, I suggest printing off this post (erm, except for the first paragraph) and handing it over with her favorite treat. Maybe it will soften the crushing blow. Or at least make her thankful that she’s not the one dealing with the doctor’s office. What can I say – I’m an optimist.

  20. Frank

    We had vision coverage for a while, until we tried to use it. And, lo and behold the depth of our coverage is so vast that… well….I am standing on the other side already.. :/ Lets just say it was CHEAPER because of the better discount given through AAA (of all places) To get (pay for) a year membership to AAA and use their discount on the doc and glasses.. than to use our insurance!!!

  21. Beth

    I have a suggestion, and I sincerely hope not to offend your Southern readers when I say this!! (You may already be doing this, anyway, but it’s something I didn’t know to do when I moved to the South.) I’m wondering if you need to learn to speak with a “sweet customer Southern Accent”.

    I’m a transplanted Yankee and when we moved to NC I talked on the phone the same way I always had: politely, crisply, efficiently. “Hello, I’m Beth, and I’m calling about X, Y, and Z.” A smile on my face, speaking clearly, not taking up too much of this busy person’s most valuable time.

    I got *terrible* balky service from almost everyone I talked to. Plus I got asked which part of Chicago I was from, or how long it had been since I moved from New York City. (I’m from the hickville cornfields of the Midwest.)

    By trial and error I learned that I couldn’t do that around here. Now my kids giggle when I’m on the phone because of my “fake Southern accent”. It’s not a fake accent, I’m just speaking really, really slowwwwwlllllyyyy by the standards of my native speech. And I stretch out my vowels a little where necessary, and use the local pronunciation for streets, and I’ve even been known to ask after someone’s Mama’s health if the situation required it.

    Again, I mean this as NO DISRESPECT TO SOUTHERNERS!!! I love it here! After 15 years here I now feel like people in my home state sound rude and obnoxious when we visit there. I know Southerners who have similarly had to train themselves to speak differently to be understood in the North, BTW. You’d think with our global society the US wouldn’t be so fragmented with regard to the social graces…but, anyway.

    Just an idea, no offense to anyone intended, and if I offended anyone I promise to pray for their Mama!

  22. Little Bird

    They really must be a subsidiary of Verizon. That sounds just like them.

  23. Jenn

    Beth, as another transplanted Yankee, I’ve also noticed a difference in results if I “put my Southern on” in a conversation. I learned my Southern accent in Texas from a college roommate who had a mighty strong one. And another thing that helps is the sharing of personal details. My hairdresser once called me and it took several minutes for her to tell me she had to reschedule because she told the whole story of what was going on and why she might not be able to fit me in at 9 but maybe could. It would have taken 30 seconds up North. It’s just a cultural difference and I find it charming. Plus the conversations are just more fun.

  24. JennyM

    Sheesh. And I just pitched a fit the other day when I called to get more contacts and they wouldn’t reorder for me because it had been over a year since I had an appointment (which, maybe? I guess? I didn’t think it had been that long? don’t they send you… cards? or something?) and so I needed an appointment before they could order new ones, and the next appointment available was not for two months and in the meantime, I’m out of contacts, and O. M. G.

  25. adhocmom

    My kid lost my glasses on a plane over a year ago. . I still haven’t bothered to get them replaced. It’s too complicated and scary.

  26. Mare

    Are you sure you live in Georgia and not in TN? I worked at a gas station once and people were always coming in and asking me, “Do you know what time it it?” (huge clock on the wall, mind you. Digital too!) I’d look at my watch and tell them, “Yup.” They’d get all confused. Or if they’d ask if the bathroom is free, I’d tell them, “Nope, it will cost you a dollar.” I made 15 bucks in a day once! (jk)

    Keep faith. Someone out there in the south (blanket generalization that does not apply to you if you’re smart, which you are because you read this blog of Mir’s or write it) has to know something, although I doubt that. I sincerely doubt that.

  27. mom, again

    I got emergency new glasses just before moving last year, because my toddler broke mine. so, I’ve been figuring I’d take that prescription multiply it by the new insurance & get what I’ve always wanted: prescription sunglasses! It seems easy enough, but now I’m worried.

  28. Cindy

    I ditto Ani re your awesomeness, as I too use Zenni. 3rd time ordering and I’m over the top with happiness at the money I save. Thank you thank you, sweet Mir.

    Maybe just asking the receptionist to have local OD call you directly would be fruitful. The dr.s may have an easy solution. The Laurel & Hardy suggests….well, just talk to someone else.

    Today my 10 yr old and I dashed in the grocery for an after school bagel before piano lessons. She selected her bagel from the single serve bin in the bakery, and I asked for cream cheeses. She told me to cross the store to the dairy department. I said, “Wha? That doesn’t make sense. Oh here they are, this is what I meant” and I showed the case below her register filled with assorted single serve cream cheese. “Oh, I’m brand new.” Me: “I bet you don’t eat bagels” Her: “No.” Just sayin. The concept was foreign to her. Talk to someone else.

    Oh, and you really flexed your writing muscle today! I followed that perfectly. Wow.

  29. Nicki

    See, you seem shocked and amazed. This seems pretty standard to me. For us, it happens ALL THE TIME. We have come to expect it. Welcome to the club. Or in this case, hop in, my nightmare is still warm!


  30. Brigitte

    Ugh, I completely hate even short, to-the-point phone calls. I have to mentally rehearse my end of the conversation and work myself up to it for at least a few days. Perhaps I’m a tad phobic. ;-)

    Thank goodness I’m not down in the South!

  31. JoAnne

    A little something that might help for next year, make her appt. for a contact lens exam rather than a glasses exam. They cost a little more (who knows why, maybe the extra math to figure out the RX?!??!), but she will leave with an acutal contact lens RX and then ask for an RX for glasses too. This is what I do and it usually works out.

  32. Stephanie

    Not sure if they have it down there, but you can take your regular prescription to Target Optical and get fitted for contacts- costs about $75 up here. It’s basically the same thing- I told them the type/brand I was interested in, and tried a couple sample contacts til we found the best fit, then they gave me a script for those.

  33. Flea


  34. PandaWriter

    In order for me to get contacts, I need two exams. One exam and prescription for my glasses, which the insurance covers. And then a separate exam and prescription for my contacts, which I have to cover (unless I don’t get any glasses, in which case they’ll cover the contacts). Yeah, I don’t get it either. For whatever reason, they’re two different prescriptions as far as my insurance and eye doctors in Los Angeles have been concerned. Which is why I don’t get to have contacts any more. Wahhhhhh!

    Add to that I’m blind as a bat, and look horrible in glasses… and trying to pick out eye glass frames when your face is wider than it is tall and you can’t see the mirror without your glasses on is torture. Without the option of throwing in a pair of contacts before I try on frames, I’m stuck depending on the kindness of the eyeglass store clerks. Who think Ernie’s “My Three Sons” eye glass frames are a good look. Shudder.

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