How to Respond to a PD Measurement Request
By Kayla Groves June 15, 2020
Most Optometric practices have experienced a patient requesting their pupillary distance (PD) measurement, but how offices respond is widely debated. When we hear that dreaded request, we know that the patient is going to purchase their glasses elsewhere and determining how to react is vital. I have worked in several offices that strictly prohibited releasing it. Many practitioners have expressed to me that if the patient is not purchasing the lenses from you, you have no way to oversee the manufacturing process, thus making you liable. However, many patients believe the PD measurement is included in the prescription and required by law. On a daily average, I would have 2-3 patients request their PD measurement, which would cost my practice about $108,000 a year. Depending on your office and average price point, you could be losing thousands of dollars each month. To help that revenue stay in your practice, you must consider the following options and weigh the pros and cons:
Do NOT release the PD measurement under any circumstance
By not releasing the PD measurement, you are releasing your liability for any incorrect measurements. The wrong PD can cause eye strain, fatigue, headaches, and blurry vision. After educating the patient on the importance of these measurements, you may build trust and persuade the patient to purchase their frames from you. Reinforce how you stand behind all your measurements, and you will be there for any problems or adjustments. When they are buying their glasses elsewhere, the patient will ultimately return to practice if they have any issues.
Many patients believe that the PD measurement is included in their exam. Patients may feel deceived and may lose trust in you. With proper communication and understanding, you can educate your patients about the risk you would have to take to release their PD. Let them know how vital these measurements are and how you would be liable for any issues another lab or online optical shop may make.
Release the PD measurement for no additional cost
By releasing the PD measurement, you are letting your patients know that you stand behind your work, and they can trust you. Let’s face it. Shopping online is easy and convenient. When online retailers started targeting the optical world, we were outraged. However, brick and mortar doors are still dominating the optical market. At the end of the day, if you cannot beat them, join them, and offer online services for your patients.
When a patient uses PD measurements that were provided by you, you can potentially be held liable for any problems. A few years ago, I released a PD and Seq Height measurement to a patient who purchased glasses online. Unfortunately, the patient was unable to see out of them, and she wanted me to investigate. After much debate, her new progressive lenses were far inferior to her previous pair. However, she was not happy, and ultimately, my practice lost her as a patient.
Charge your patient for the PD measurement
When you charge a patient for a PD measurement, you let them know you’re providing a service, and your time is essential. If it were easy, everyone would do it. It takes a skilled professional to make these determinations. It would be best if you were compensated for your time. If a patient is using this measurement to purchase glasses elsewhere, you may have to provide adjustments and proper training. In my experience, I have seen offices charge between $20-30, but I have also seen several offices charge and obtain $45 for this service.
Some patients may be upset by this charge and believe that it should be included in the exam. You might lose a patient altogether and risk a scathing online review; however, proper education and communication can help alleviate this problem. Explain to your patient that most practitioners do not provide this service during a routine eye exam. An optician typically performs measurements. An optician takes into account many aspects and informs your patient that it is unlikely to obtain an accurate PD measurement from a printable ruler on the internet.
There are different responses among eyecare professionals on how to handle this situation, and while there is no "right" approach, it’s best to do your research before determining your protocol. Look around your office and keep track of how many patients are requesting this service. Determine how much money you are potentially losing and put into action the appropriate response for your office.
If we’re finding that many patients are requesting their PD, it’s a clear signal that should motivate us to take action.