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August 24, 2018 Rolling Our Eyes at the FTC’s Contact Lens Rule Revision

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What is the Contact Lens Rule?

In 2004, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) created the Contact Lens Rule to implement the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act (FCLCA). Among other things, this rule mandates and provides guidelines for how eyewear prescribers, like ophthalmologists and optometrists, give patients their lens prescriptions. In December 2016, the FTC proposed a change to this rule additionally requires prescribers receive a signed confirmation from patients stating they received a copy of their prescription.

 

Why is this a problem?

The Contact Lens Rule is cumbersome to prescribers and patients. Ophthalmologists and optometrists fear accidentally violating this rule by simply offering to sell patients contacts from their office supply before handing them their prescription. The FTC’s proposed revision would make this rule even more inconvenient and wasteful because of the required confirmation form. The increased time and resources this revision requires will frustrate eye care providers and their patients alike.

Patients should have access to their prescriptions, but this level of mandated bureaucracy is unnecessary and limits patients’ personal freedom and responsibility for their own healthcare.

 

What am I doing about it?

I am exploring potential legislation to rein in the FTC’s attempt to further expand their authorities.

 

What are they saying about it?

“The FTC's proposed contact lens paperwork mandate represents an unnecessary burden and costly new requirement for America’s more than 40 million contact lens wearers and the thousands of small business eye doctor practices on which they rely for comprehensive vision and eye health care in communities across the country. With health economists estimating that the proposed mandate would add additional costs of nearly $20,000 per doctor per year, the AOA commends Representative Biggs, more than 100 other U.S. House and Senate leaders, free market think tanks, consumer advocacy organizations, and countless others who are now calling on the FTC to withdraw this seeming solution in search of a problem.” – Dr. Samuel Pierce, President, American Optometric Association

 

“The Commission has no evidence of rampant failure by our physicians to comply with the Contact Lens Rule but unfortunately has persisted in an endeavor to levee new regulatory burdens on them. We do not believe that the Commission has promoted any policy change or considered any changes that will strengthen or improve the Contact Lens Rule.” – The American Academy of Ophthalmology

 

“The proposed revision would place an unnecessary and expensive burden on me, my staff, and my patients. This financial burden would raise the price of eye care and eye wear. There's not a single patient of mine who doesn't know that they can purchase their eye wear elsewhere. I don't need the threat of government fines and imprisonment when I know I'd quickly go out of business if I didn't give my patients what they wanted.” – Dr. Joseph Kevin Quaranta, Optometrist, Sonoran Desert Eye Center in Chandler