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August 21, 2004

The Art of the Money Grab

Apparently Eyemasters is making a grab for more money by avoiding writing scripts for brands their patients customers can buy elsewhere.

I thought it odd that they were insistent on trying to change the Acuvue torics I'd been wearing for three years to a new brand. I thought it odder when I walked into the contact lens room and found lots of holes in the walls where I knew the huge variety of lenses used to be. I didn't put it all together, though, until I started trying to shop around for the lenses I assumed I would eventually be wearing.

ProClear lenses, including the torics, are only able to be purchased by optometrists. While 1-800 Contacts doesn't have the torics, they do have the standard ProClear lenses, and attached to them a nice page explaining this policy.

The non-toric lenses being prescribed by Eyemasters for other patients are in a similar boat: one company makes a variety of "private label" brands so customers don't realize they can buy the lenses elsewhere. I wondered why I had never heard of "provision" before I walked into Eyemasters in August, and now I know why.

Even more amusing, though, is that I was told the ProClear torics would be slightly more expensive than the Acuvues. Which, at $70 a box for the Acuvues, is unusual. I was finally able to find one contact lens reseller this afternoon that actually had ProClear torics. $50 a box. Fifty dollars a box. For a company that has to jump through hoops to get them. That means Eyemasters -- and their optometrists -- must be making one hell of a killing off the mark-up.

Out of morbid curiosity, I visited Acuvue's site this afternoon and used the "find a professional" feature to list all the locations prescribing Acuvue lenses within 25 miles of me. Surprise, surprise! What's the only eye care center no longer in that list? You guessed it.

Posted by Colin at August 21, 2004 6:10 PM

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