Your patient calls you panicked because she’s on her last pair of contact lenses. Perhaps due to COVID-19, she isn’t able to (or doesn’t want to) come into the office. You may determine, in your medical judgment, that it’s appropriate to renew or extend that prescription. How do the Contact Lens Consumer Act and the Contact Lens Rule apply to that interaction?
While prescribers are likely looking out for the best interests of their patients by renewing or extending prescriptions under those circumstances, they still have to comply with the law. A renewal or extension – including one where you determine that no change in the existing prescription is required – counts as a “contact lens fitting” under the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act and the Contact Lens Rule. That means if you renew or extend a patient’s prescription in that context, you still must provide the patient a copy of the contact lens prescription, whether or not they ask for it. If prescribers are willing to sell lenses to their patients, the fitting is complete and prescribers must automatically give their patients a copy of the prescription.
Under the Act and the Rule, you can’t require payment from a patient as a condition of providing or verifying their contact lens prescription. Yes, you may require a patient to pay for the exam, fitting, or evaluation before giving them a copy of their prescription, but only if you also require immediate payment from a patient whose eye exam shows no need for glasses or contacts. Prescribers also can’t require patients to buy contact lenses, or sign a waiver or release, as a condition of releasing or verifying a prescription. These prohibitions apply to prescription renewals and extensions.
So renew those prescriptions, if medically appropriate, but provide prescriptions to your patients – and compete for the sale of lenses on price and convenience.