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All eyes will be on the FTC as the agency hosts a workshop on May 18th, A Clear Look at the Eyeglass Rule. Convened as part of the ongoing review of the Ophthalmic Practice Rules – consumers and industry members know it as the Eyeglass Rule – the half-day discussion will focus on issues central to the protections afforded by the Rule, including proposed changes that are under consideration. Check out the just-published agenda for the event.

In place since 1978, the Eyeglass Rule is designed to facilitate consumer choice and promote competition by requiring ophthalmologists and optometrists to provide patients with a copy of their prescription immediately after an eye exam. The FTC has revisited the Rule periodically to ensure it’s still serving that important function and to consider changes in the marketplace that could have an impact on its operation. 

Several months ago the FTC proposed updates to the Eyeglass Rule and those topics are the focus of the May 18th event. FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection Director Samuel Levine will kick off the conference at 9:00 Eastern Time. The first panel – Prescription Release – will consider the need for the prescription release requirement, including a discussion of ongoing barriers consumers face and roadblocks to effective Rule compliance.

After a presentation on Implementing the Contact Lens Rule Confirmation Requirement, the second panel will focus on Examining the Confirmation Requirement and Lessons Learned from the Contact Lens Rule. Speakers will discuss a 2020 amendment to the Contact Lens Rule that requires prescribers to get a signed confirmation from patients when they provide a copy of the prescription – similar to the proposed new requirement for the Eyeglass Rule. How is that working at the office level? Have compliance issue arisen? Are there options for easing the burden to practitioners?

The third panel – A Focus on Other Proposed Rule Changes – will consider three additional proposed amendments to the Rule: allowing prescribers, with a patient’s verifiable affirmative consent, to provide a digital copy of a prescription, rather than a paper copy; clarifying that a patient’s proof of insurance coverage is considered payment for the purpose of determining when a prescription must be provided; and changing the term “eye examination” to “refractive eye examination” throughout the Rule.

A Clear Look at the Eyeglass Rule is open to the public and will be held at the FTC’s Constitution Center conference facility, 400 Seventh Street, S.W., in Washington. Registration isn’t required. No way to make it to DC on May 18th? No worries. Just before the 9:00 ET start time, the webcast link will go live on the event webpage.

The FTC is leaving the public record open until June 20th. File your online comments by that date.


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May 08, 2023

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