You’ve probably heard a lot of advice about what to do when you get an eye exam. But is there anything you shouldn’t do? Absolutely.
Spinning a Tall Tale
When I was in optometry school, I worked in an eye clinic to support myself and gain valuable experience.
One day a woman claimed her glasses lens had cracked, and she was hoping to receive a new one at no charge. In her opinion, the lens cracked because it was defective.
Another student and I examined the lens. It was clearly scratched, but not cracked. I didn’t want to seem confrontational, but the other student had no such reservations.
He told her what he thought, and she got pretty mad. She yelled at my coworker, insisting the lens was cracked, and demanding a replacement.
We replaced her lens in the name of good customer service. Still, we suspected she was telling a fib to avoid having to pay.
Always Tell the Truth
Many patients lie to their doctors. A 2015 study found about a quarter of patients do this for various reasons. A scratched lens won’t hurt your vision. But what if you’re misleading your eye doctor about more important matters, such as whether you are using medicated eye drops or how much you smoke?
For example, I may have a patient who has glaucoma. If their eye pressure suddenly increases, I have to make sure they are using their eye drops. Many times patients will admit they are not, even if they said they are. This scenario is fairly common.
But there’s a big difference between a medication that isn’t working and one that isn’t being used. The former is a much harder problem to solve. No matter the reason, there is usually a solution to help people get on track.
But your eye doctor can’t help you if you’re not telling the truth.
Here are three reasons not to lie to your eye doctor:
- It’s your vision. Put aside fear of embarrassment or of being judged. Your vision is too precious to lie about. If you’re doing something you shouldn’t then tell your doctor and ask for help. If you’re not doing something you should, ask your doctor to help you with ways to get better or more consistent.
- Your doctor wants to help you. Yes, doctors may get frustrated or even angry if you haven’t followed their advice. But they’re only getting upset because they care about you and want you to be well. It’s why people became a doctors. I’d rather have a patient tell me the truth so I can adjust treatment. If a patient lies, I may think they are doing well and they leave without proper care. This isn’t good for anyone.
- Lying may affect your treatment. Many people don’t realize that doctors use treatment protocols. That means they use information provided by patients to make decisions. Protocols, rules, and standards of care help guide those decisions. If you’re not giving your doctor true information, your treatment plan may not work as well. It may even be harmful.
People may lie to their doctors simply because they aim to please. And while I am always happy when a patient is following advice, I never want to believe it’s true when it isn’t.
You’re responsible for your own health. This is especially true in the exam room. To make the most of your eye exam and your relationship with your trusted eye doctor, make sure you tell the truth.