FTC staff has a prescription for certain eyewear prescribers: It’s time to focus on complying with the FTC’s Eyeglass Rule. Cease and desist letters went to 37 prescribers about whom the FTC received complaints of alleged violations of the Rule. The concerns? Did the office fail to automatically provide a patient with their eyeglass prescription immediately upon completion of their eyeglass exam? And did the office require the patient to pay a fee or buy glasses as a condition of releasing the prescription? Both of those practices violate the Eyeglass Rule.
The goal of the Eyeglass Rule is to give people who wear glasses – according to reports, as many of 2/3 of all Americans – the tools they need to comparison shop. Among other things, the Rule requires that prescribers provide the patient a copy of the eyeglass prescription immediately after the eye examination, even if the patient doesn’t ask for it. It’s also illegal for prescribers to charge any fee in addition to the exam fee as a condition of providing a copy of the prescription.
The Rule prohibits prescribers from requiring that patients buy “ophthalmic goods” – eyeglasses and components of eyeglasses – as a condition of providing a copy of the prescription. What’s more, prescribers can’t require patients to sign a waiver or release as a condition of releasing the prescription.
The cease and desist letters remind recipients that violations of the Eyeglass Rule may result in legal action, including civil penalties of up to $50,120 per violation. Staff expects to hear from the recipients within five business days with a description of how they intend to address the reported violations.
Just as eyecare professionals remind patients of the benefits of periodic check-ups, prescribers should consider a check-up of their own. Complying with the Eyeglass Rule is a good place to start. The FTC has three other key takeaways for prescribers:
- Provide the prescription after any eye exam that includes a refraction.
- Provide the prescription before offering to sell the patient glasses.
- If you delegate to a staff member the task of handing the prescription to the patient, make sure your employee is trained in complying with the Rule.
And if you’re one of the millions of Americans who wears glasses, read Buying Prescription Glasses or Contact Lenses: Your Rights before your next eye exam.
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I go to dr.hyde in morristown, tn.they charge me $35 for the prescription for my glasses n afterward picking out the cheapest glasses,I can afford they don't give me no paper.i have medicade I'm disable n the BlueCare TennCare should pay for everything but it doesn't. I live in the state of Tennessee. Ty