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The Federal Trade Commission has extended the public comment period on whether to modify, rescind or retain the provisions of the Ophthalmic Practice Rules, which require eye care practitioners to release eyeglass prescriptions to their patients -- the "Prescription Release Rule" -- until September 2, 1997. The request for public comment is part of the Commission's periodic review of rules and guides.

The FTC issued its initial request for public comment on the overall costs and benefits of the Prescription Release Rule and its economic impact on April 3. The Commission has extended the comment period in response to a request from the National Association of Optometrists and Opticians, a trade association which represents chain optical firms.

The Prescription Release Rule, promulgated in 1978, requires that optometrists and ophthalmologists provide their patients with a copy of the patients' eyeglass prescriptions immediately after an eye exam is completed and at no extra cost. The rule also prohibits optometrists and ophthalmologists from conditioning the availability of an eye exam on a requirement that patients agree to buy their ophthalmic goods from the optometrist or ophthalmologist. The rule further prohibits optometrists or ophthalmologists from placing on prescriptions or giving to patients, certain disclaimers or waivers of liability.

The Commission vote to extend the comment deadline and to publish the Federal Register notice was 5-0.

Comments should be identified as "16 CFR Part 456 Comment" and addressed to the Office of the Secretary, FTC, Room 159, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580.

Copies of the Federal Register notice extending the time for filing public comments, as well as other documents associated with this matter, are available from the FTC's Public Reference Branch, Room 130, at the above address; 202-326-2222; TTY for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest FTC news as it is announced, call the FTC's NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710. FTC news releases and other materials also are available on the Internet at the FTC's World Wide Web Site at:

FTC Matter Number R011001)

Contact Information

Media Contact:
Brenda A. Mack
Office of Public Affairs
Staff Contact:
Denise Owens
Bureau of ConsumerProtection