FTC to Hold Public Workshop in Washington, D.C. on March 7, 2018 to Examine the Contact Lens Marketplace and Proposed Changes to the Commission’s Contact Lens Rule

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The Federal Trade Commission will hold 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 is being 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.

Topics to be discussed at the workshop include, but are not limited to:

  • 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 is free and open to the public, and the Commission is accepting requests to participate as a panelist from interested parties through January 5, 2018, via email at: contactlensworkshop2018@ftc.gov. The FTC also welcomes written comments on the issues to be discussed at the workshop. Interested parties may file a comment online until April 6, 2018, at: https://ftcpublic.commentworks.com/ftc/contactlensworkshop.

To file a comment or request to participate on paper, write “Contact Lens Rule, 16 CFR Part 315, Comment, Project No. R511995” on your comment, or “Contact Lens Rule, 16 CFR Part 315, Request to Participate, Project No. R511995,” on your request, and mail your submission to the following address: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite CC-5610 (Annex F), Washington, DC 20580, or deliver your submission to the following address: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, Constitution Center, 400 7th Street, SW, 5th Floor, Suite 5610 (Annex F). Requests to participate must be received on or before January 5, 2018. The public comment period will remain open until April 6, 2018, and comments received will be posted on the workshop’s public webpage.

The workshop will be held at the FTC’s Constitution Center Conference Center, 400 7th St., SW, Washington, DC 20024. The Commission will publish a detailed agenda at a later date. The Commission vote approving the Federal Register notice announcing the workshop was 2-0.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition, and protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, read our blogs and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

Contact Information

MEDIA CONTACT:
Mitchell J. Katz,
Office of Public Affairs
202-326-2161

STAFF CONTACTS:
Elizabeth A. Delaney,
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-2903

Alysa S. Bernstein,
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-3289