Can You Get Contact Lenses without a Prescription?

No, you cannot buy contact lenses without a prescription in the United States. Contact lenses are considered a medical device, meaning you will need a prescription from an optometrist or ophthalmologist to get contact lenses. Contact lenses that are not made and fitted for your specific eye-sight can cause discomfort, inflammation, infecting and swelling. This can cause long term or permanent eye tissue damage that can seriously affect your vision. Speak to your doctor on your options when it comes to contact lenses.

Are You Entitled to Your Prescription? (law/patient rights)

If you go in for an eye exam, your ophthalmologists or optometrists are required by the Eyeglass Rule to write you a prescription for eyeglasses. The FTC, Federal Trade Commision, defines the Eyeglass Rule as “the written specifications for lenses for eyeglasses which are derived from an eye examination, including all of the information specified by state law, if any, necessary to obtain lenses for eyeglasses.” Depending on the state that you are in, some may require your prescription to include the patient’s name, the date it was issued/date of exam, when the prescription expires, and the name, contact info, signature of the eye doctor.

What Do OD and OS mean?

When looking at your eyeglasses prescription, you may notice the headings OS and OD. These are abbreviations of the Latin words for your left and right eye. The left eye is called the Oculus Sinister while the right eye is the Oculus Dextrus. The notation OU may be used to refer to both eyes.

As a rule of thumb, the further the number is away from zero (+/-) the worse the eyesight. A (+) symbol denotes farsighted while the (-) symbol denotes nearsightedness. The numbers associated with these notations represent diopter, the focusing power or correction of the lens that your eyes will require.