The eyes have it

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Mark March 7, 2018, on your calendar. That’s when the FTC is putting its Contact Lens Rule under the lens at a public workshop in Washington, DC.

In place since 2004, the Contact Lens Rule helps promote competition in the retail sale of contacts. When a prescriber completes a contact lens fitting, he or she must automatically provide the patient with a complete copy of the contact lens prescription and must verify (or provide the prescription) to authorized third parties. What’s the benefit to consumers? With a valid prescription in hand, they can comparison shop for the contacts their healthcare professional has prescribed.

The Rule also requires that contact lens sellers dispense contacts only in accordance with a valid prescription received from the patient or the prescriber – or that the seller has verified through direct communication with the prescriber.

The FTC is holding the workshop in conjunction with its regulatory review of the Contact Lens Rule. (Here’s more information about the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking published last year about proposed changes to the Rule.) As the Federal Register Notice announcing the March 7th workshop explains in detail, the FTC hopes to get a 20/20 perspective on these topics and more:

  • Consumers’ ability to comparison shop for contacts;
  • The use of electronic health records, patient portals, and other technology to improve prescription portability;
  • The interaction between the Contact Lens Rule and emerging telehealth businesses;
  • The potential for new technology to improve the prescription verification process; and
  • Possible changes to the Rule to encourage competition and maximize the benefits to consumers.

Interested in applying to be a panelist at the workshop, The Contact Lens Rule and the Evolving Contact Lens Marketplace? Email us at contactlensworkshop2018@ftc.gov by January 5, 2018. We also welcome online comments on the issues, which we’ll place on the public record. The deadline for filing comments is April 6, 2018.

The workshop will take place at the FTC’s Constitution Center, 400 7th Street, S.W. It’s free and open to the public.
(And yes, well webcast it live.)

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