The FTC is considering proposed changes to the Eyeglass Rule and has announced a May 18, 2023, public workshop, A Clear Look at the Eyeglass Rule. If you have clients in the industry – or if you’re interested in consumers’ rights when shopping for glasses – you’ll want to read the Federal Register Notice to see how the issues are framed.
The Ophthalmic Practice Rules – most people know it as the Eyeglass Rule – require ophthalmologists and optometrists to provide patients with a copy of their prescription immediately after the completion of an eye exam. Prescribers can’t require that patients buy eyeglasses, pay an additional fee, or sign a waiver or release as a condition of getting their prescription. In addition, the Rule requires that prescribers give patients a copy of their prescription even if the patient doesn’t ask for it and even if their prescription hasn’t changed.
In December 2022, the FTC proposed revisions to the Eyeglass Rule. One notable amendment would require prescribers to ask patients to sign an acknowledgement confirming they have received their prescription. Prescribers would need to retain that confirmation for three years. The thinking behind the proposal is that it would encourage prescribers to honor the Rule, remind patients of their rights, and provide prescribers with a way to verify compliance. Other proposed changes would allow prescribers, with a patient’s verifiable affirmative consent, to provide a digital (not paper) copy of the prescription and would clarify that a patient’s proof of insurance coverage will be deemed to be a payment for the purpose of determining when the prescriber must provide the prescription. One other proposal: changing the term “eye examination” to “refractive eye examination” throughout the Rule.
A Clear Look at the Eyeglass Rule will continue the conversation at a half-day event scheduled for 9:00 to 1:00 pm ET on May 18th in the FTC’s Constitution Center conference room. Can’t make it to DC that day? Watch the webcast live from a link we’ll post that morning. We’ll announce the agenda soon, but the discussion will likely focus on the proposed prescription release confirmation requirement for eyeglass prescriptions, consumers’ and prescribers’ experiences with how a similar requirement for contact lens prescriptions is working, other proposed changes to the rule, and issues raised in public comments filed in response to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.
The FTC is accepting requests to participate as a panelist. If you’re interested, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org by April 7, 2023, following the procedure in today’s Federal Register Notice. In addition, we’re leaving the public record open until June 20, 2023, if you want to file a written comment.
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