The Federal Trade Commission announced today that it has denied a petition to revise its "Eyeglasses Prescription Release Rule," which requires eye doctors to give patients a copy of their prescription for glasses, to also require the release of contact lens prescriptions to patients. In its letter denying the petition, the Commission said the petitioner did not provide any information or documentation to contradict the Commission's 1989 decision not to require release of contact lens prescriptions.
In 1989, the Commission determined that there was insufficient evidence in the record that a refusal to provide contact lens prescriptions was prevalent and, also, that it may be necessary "to verify the fit of the lens because there is some danger that lenses may not conform to the eye as expected." Since evidence on this point at that time was insufficient to evaluate the claim fully, the Commission said it could not conclude that the refusal to release a contact lens prescription is an unfair act or practice.
While reviewing the recent petition to extend the rule to cover contact lens prescriptions, the Commission conducted a survey that showed that 92 percent of consumers who asked for a copy of their lens prescription received one. In addition, the Commission reviewed medical literature that continues to raise quality of care issues.
The Commission will begin a mandatory review of the "Eyeglasses Prescription Release Rule" in 1998, as established by Commission policy that requires a periodic review of its rules.
The rule, which originally was promulgated in 1978, requires optometrists and ophthalmologists to release the eyeglass prescription to the patient immediately after an eye examination in order to help consumers shop for the best eyeglasses deal.
The Commission vote to dismiss the petition was 5-0.
Copies of the petition, the survey and the Commission's response are available from the FTC's Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-326-2222; TTY for the hearing impaired 202-326- 2502. 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: http://www.ftc.gov
(FTC File No. R011001)