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Event Description

The Federal Trade Commission held a public workshop in Washington, DC, on March 7, 2018 to explore issues regarding competition in the contact lens marketplace, consumer access to contact lenses, prescription release and portability, and related subjects. The workshop was held in conjunction with the Commission’s regulatory review of the Contact Lens Rule. A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NRPM) was issued in December 2016 announcing proposed changes to the Commission’s Contact Lens Rule.

The Rule, in place since August 2004, helps to promote competition in the retail sale of contact lenses by facilitating consumers’ ability to comparison shop for contact lenses. It imposes obligations on both eye-care prescribers and contact lens sellers.

When a prescriber completes a contact lens fitting, the Rule requires the prescriber to automatically provide the patient with a complete copy of the contact lens prescription, and to verify or provide the prescription to authorized third parties.

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

The workshop covered topics including:

  • Consumers’ ability to comparison shop for contact lenses;
  • 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 business models;
  • The potential for new technology to improve the prescription verification process; and
  • Modifications to the Rule to foster competition and maximize consumer benefits, including benefits to eye health.

The workshop was organized into panels and panelists were selected by the FTC. Other attendees had an opportunity to comment and ask questions. Commission staff tweeted workshop highlights and took questions during the event @FTC using #ContactLensFTC.

The FTC also welcomes written comments on the issues to be discussed at the workshop. Interested parties may file a comment online at: https://ftcpublic.commentworks.com/ftc/contactlensworkshop.

You can find additional information about how to submit comments in the detailed public notice about the workshop. The deadline for submitting comments is April 6, 2018.

The workshop was free and open to the public, and was held at the Constitution Center, 400 7th Street, SW, Washington, DC. It was webcast live on the FTC’s website.

  • 7:45 AM

    Registration

    9:00 AM

    Introduction

    Alysa S. Bernstein
    Attorney, Division of Advertising Practices, Bureau of Consumer Protection

    Opening Remarks

    Thomas B. Pahl
    Acting Director, Bureau of Consumer Protection

    9:15 – 9:45 AM

    Panel I: Overview of the Contact Lens Marketplace

    Moderator: 

    • Beth Freeborn, Economist, Consumer Protection Division, Bureau of Economics

    Panelists:

    • Steve Kodey, Senior Director of Industry Research Services, The Vision Council
    • Wallace W. Lovejoy, Lovejoy Eyecare Consulting LLC, appearing as a consultant to the National Association of Optometrists and Opticians
    9:45 – 11:00 AM

    Panel II: Contact Lens Health and Safety Issues

    Moderators: 

    • Richard L. Cleland, Assistant Director, Division of Advertising Practices, Bureau of Consumer Protection
    • Andrew Stivers, Deputy Director for Consumer Protection, Bureau of Economics

    Panelists:

    • Dr. Edward Chaum, MD, PhD, Plough Foundation Professor, University of Tennessee Health Science Center
    • Dr. Jennifer Cope, MD, MPH, Medical Epidemiologist, Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    • Dr. Malvina Eydelman, MD, Director, Division of Ophthalmic and Ear, Nose and Throat Devices, Office of Device Evaluation, CDRH/FDA
    • Dr. Carol Lakkis, BS Optom, PhD, Clinical Research Fellow, Head Applied Clinical Sciences, Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc.
    • Dr. Michelle Tarver, MD, PhD, Division of Ophthalmic and Ear, Nose, and Throat Devices, Office of Device Evaluation, CDRH/FDA
    11:00 – 11:15 AM

    Break

    11:15 – 12:45 PM

    Panel III: Competition in the Contact Lens Marketplace

    Moderators:

    • Tara Isa Koslov, Acting Director, Office of Policy Planning
    • Christopher M. Grengs, Attorney, Office of Policy and Coordination, Bureau of Competition

    Panelists:

    • James C. Cooper, Associate Professor of Law and Director, Program on Economics & Privacy at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School
    • John Graham, Chief Executive Officer, 1-800 Contacts
    • Gary Swearingen, Corporate Counsel, Costco Wholesale
    • David Sonnenreich, Deputy Utah Attorney General, State of Utah, Office of the Attorney General
    • Mitch Wessels, Senior Director of Contact Lenses, Luxottica N.A.
    12:45 – 1:45 PM

    Lunch

    1:45 – 2:45 PM

    Panel IV: Examining the Verification Process

    Moderators:

    • Elizabeth Delaney, Attorney, Division of Advertising Practices, Bureau of Consumer Protection
    • Paul Spelman, Attorney, Division of Advertising Practices, Bureau of Consumer Protection

    Panelists:

    • Dr. David A. Cockrell, OD, Diplomate American Board of Optometry, Past President American Optometric Association
    • Shaun Schooley, Vice President, Global Marketing Technology, CooperVision
    • Jennifer Sommer, Director, US Ethics & Compliance, Walmart Inc.
    • Dr. Thomas L. Steinemann, MD, Professor of Ophthalmology, MetroHealth Medical Center, Case Western Reserve University
    • Cynthia Williams, General Counsel, 1-800 Contacts
    2:45 – 4:00 PM

    Panel V: Prescription Release and Consumer Choice

    Moderators:

    • Elizabeth Delaney, Attorney, Division of Advertising Practices, Bureau of Consumer Protection
    • Daniel J. Gilman, Attorney Advisor, Office of Policy Planning

    Panelists:

    • Dr. Edward Chaum, MD, PhD, Plough Foundation Professor, University of Tennessee Health Science Center
    • Dr. David A. Cockrell, OD, Diplomate American Board of Optometry, Past President American Optometric Association
    • Dr. Zachary McCarty, OD, Chair - Quality Improvement and Registry Committee, American Optometric Association
    • Joseph B. Neville, Executive Director, National Association of Optometrists and Opticians
    • Linda Sherry, Director, National Priorities, Consumer Action
    4:00 – 4:15 PM

    Break

    4:15 – 5:15 PM

    Panel VI: Looking Ahead: Potential Market Disruptions and Their Impact on Competition, Consumer Protection, and the Contact Lens Rule

    Moderators:

    • Mary K. Engle, Associate Director, Division of Advertising Practices, Bureau of Consumer Protection
    • Tara Isa Koslov, Acting Director, Office of Policy Planning

    Panelists:

    • Robert D. Atkinson, President, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation
    • Alex Bargar, Director of Clinical Services, Simple Contacts
    • Bob Hubbard, Assistant Attorney General, New York Attorney General’s Office
    • Peter A. Menziuso, President, North America, Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc.
  • Request for Comments

    Submit a Comment

    Comments Due: April 6, 2018 (end of comment period)

FTC Privacy Policy

Under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) or other laws, we may be required to disclose to outside organizations the information you provide when you pre-register. The Commission will consider all timely and responsive public comments, whether filed in paper or electronic form, and as a matter of discretion, we make every effort to remove home contact information for individuals from the public comments before posting them on the FTC website.

The FTC Act and other laws we administer permit the collection of your pre-registration contact information and the comments you file to consider and use in this proceeding as appropriate. For additional information, including routine uses permitted by the Privacy Act, see the Commission’s comprehensive Privacy Policy.

This event is open to the public and may be photographed, videotaped, webcast, or otherwise recorded. By participating in this event, you are agreeing that your image — and anything you say or submit — may be posted indefinitely at ftc.gov or on one of the Commission's publicly available social media sites.