In response to reports that some eye doctors may be violating the Contact Lens Rule, the FTC recently sent cease-and-desist letters to 24 prescribers’ offices reminding them of their legal obligations.
The FTC’s Contact Lens Rule ensures that patients receive a copy of their contact lens prescription when they complete a contact lens fitting with their eyecare professional. The Rule requires prescribers to give patients a copy of their prescription after completing a fitting even if the patient doesn’t ask for it and even if the prescription hasn’t changed.
The purpose of the Rule — which is governed by the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act — is to allow people to comparison shop when buying prescription contact lenses. The Rule has been in place since 2004, and was amended in 2020, but the FTC continues to get reports about some eyecare professionals who are not following the law. The letters also remind prescribers that, under the Rule:
- they can’t charge for prescriptions and can’t require patients to buy contact lenses or sign waivers as a condition of providing a copy of the prescription;
- they may require patients to pay for their eye exam and fitting before giving the patient a copy of the prescription, but only if the prescriber also requires immediate payment from patients whose exams reveal no need for contacts. Proof of insurance coverage for service is deemed to be payment;
- when they prescribe private label lenses, they must include the name of manufacturer, trade name of private label brand, and, if applicable, trade name of equivalent brand name. This requirement ensures that consumers have the information they need to comparison shop for the prescribed contact lens or one “identical” to the prescribed lens; and
- if they have a direct or indirect financial interest in the sale of contact lenses, they must ask their patients to sign an acknowledgement confirming they received their prescription.
The letters to certain prescribers include warnings about the following obligations when they receive requests from third-party sellers:
- when a prescriber responds to a third-party seller’s request for prescription verification, they must not provide a general denial. If the prescription is inaccurate, expired or otherwise invalid, the prescriber must specify the basis for the inaccuracy or invalidity of the prescription and, if it is inaccurate, the prescriber must correct it; and
- when a prescriber receives a request for a copy of a prescription from a third-party seller, the prescriber must either provide the prescription or indicate that it is no longer current or valid within forty business hours of receipt of the request.
In some of the letters, FTC staff raised concerns about reports that the prescribers also may have violated the Eyeglass Rule. That Rule requires prescribers to provide eyeglass prescription at the end of refractive eye exams, and prohibits prescribers from charging for the prescription or making patients buy eyeglasses.
The letters inform prescribers that they should review the Rules and must comply with their requirements, and advise that failure to comply could result in legal action and financial penalties of $50,120 per violation.
Focusing on the requirements of the Rules? Read The Contact Lens Rule: A Guide for Prescribers and Sellers, FAQs: Complying with the Contact Lens Rule, and Complying with the Eyeglass Rule for more information. The FTC also has advice for people who wear contacts or glasses to help explain their rights under the law.
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To the ftc.gov admin, Your posts are always well-received by the community.
Have been to my Eye, doctor 3. I'm so nervous and 3 times in a row. He has given me the wrong prescription from my contacts why is he doing this
In reply to Have been to my Eye, doctor… by Jada Varner
You are the one that choses your prescription. He asks you which is better one or two and you choose the lens. So maybe you aren't choosing right. Or what exactly you mean? Like you choose -2.00 and he writes it for -1.00 on purpose? highly unlikely.
And then why do you keep going back to the same eye doctor? go somewhere else.
The FTC seems very one sided in this situation. They are against the hard working Dr's and for 1800 contacts. They only enforce the rules against the drs and not the websites. My patient went blind buying contacts from Waldo Contacts because they switched the RX i Prescribed and kept filling it for 5 years without ever contacting me.
Also the FTC is for 1800 Contacts.
They let 1800 Contacts break all the rules . Has the FTC ever fined 1800 contacts??
1800 contacts emails my personal email when you can't reply back to an email. They say i must fax it back. But guess what my office is closed that day and i don't have my fax machine. They can email me and i can't simply reply back? seems very one sided!!!
1800 constantly send me verification requests knowing my office is closed. Knowing i won't be able to respond back.
1800 knows those people haven't had an exam in years and they continue to sell and switch brand names of contact lenses with no punishment from the FTC.
FTC is against Drs and for the 1800 contacts. Seems like very corrupt organization that passes rules and only enforces it to one side of the party. seems very un american and more communistic to me.
The communism of the FTC just enforces the laws as they see fit.
If the law states eye doctors must give a copy of the contact lens prescription. Why do they still need to get faxes and emails for contact lens verifications?? The RX was given and that should be that.
None of these thousands of faxes and emails that we can't respond to when our office is closed.
The FTC was paid off by corporations for a way to just bypass the expiration of the prescription. seems like it is geared toward the contact lens reseller.
Why isn't the same system used for my my hypertension medicine. I can't just simply request more online with an expired prescription and when not magically verified by my doctor it gets filled anyways.
If you have a system should be the same for all prescriptions.
Imagine all these mad Primary doctors they would throw a fit over all these faxes.
How come i can verification request by email but i cant email the company back? I dont have a fax machine at home. When i recieve an email and its my day off andmy iffice is closed i am not going to go to the office to fax the verification request back.