Consumer FAQ about Prescriptions

Frequently Asked Questions

When is my optometrist required to give me a contact lens prescription?

The Texas Contact Lens Prescription Act and federal law require an optometrist to release a contact lens prescription at the end of the eye exam. This may require returning to the doctor’s office for a follow-up visit. An optometrist may refuse to release a prescription for one or more of the following reasons, but must tell the patient and document the reason in the patient’s file:

  • the health of the patient’s eyes indicates that the patient should not wear contact lenses or categories of contact lenses
  • potential harm exists to the health of the patient’s eyes
  • the patient has not paid for the examination or for other debts owed to the physician, optometrist, or therapeutic optometrist
  • the request is made after the expiration date of the prescription (a two month extension is allowed).

An optometrist is also required to verify a current and valid contact lens prescription upon the request of a contact lens dispenser.

When is my optometrist required to give me the prescription for my glasses?

The Texas Optometry Act and a FTC Rule require the optometrist to give the patient the prescription following an eye examination. The Texas Optometry Act does not require an optometrist to give a patient the prescription if the examination fee has not been paid.

Am I entitled to a copy of my patient records?

The Texas Optometry Act states that the optometrist owns the patient record, but the patient is entitled to a copy of the record when a signed written request is made to the optometrist. The optometrist may charge a reasonable fee. A “patient record” has been defined by Board rule as the patient chart, historical record, or working document during the course of examination and patient care between the doctor and patient (but should not be considered a prescription). “Prescription” for spectacles, contact lenses, or ophthalmic devices is defined as a written order signed by the examining optometrist, therapeutic optometrist or physician. Federal law (HIPAA) also imposes requirements on optometrists.

Does state law require that I have an eye examination each year?

The Optometry Act does not speak to mandatory examination dates — that decision lies with your optometrist. When a contact lens prescription is issued, the doctor is required to place an expiration date on that prescription. Optometrists are not required to place an expiration date on prescriptions for glasses, but the majority do. Optometrists cannot prescribe without performing an eye examination. Determining when an eye examination and health check of the eye are required is a professional determination by the doctor based upon the appropriate “standard of care.”

Can opticians change my prescription from bifocals or trifocals into progressive lenses or change the type of contact lens?

No. Opticians must fill the prescription as written. If changes are desired or if the optician has a question regarding the prescription, the optometrist must be contacted. For an optician to change any prescription without authorization constitutes the practice of optometry without a license.

If I want color, nonprescription contact lenses to change the color of my eyes, do I need to have a prescription?

Yes. For more information on purchasing contacts, use this link.