16 CFR Part 315; Agency Information Collection Activities: Review; Comment Request; Contact Lens Rule: FTC Project No. R511995
As a primary care optometrist and optical center owner I have frequently seen inefficiencies in the Contact Lens Rule, specifically in the method used by online contact lens retailers to verify patient contact lens prescription. My receptionist and office manager report approximately 25 verification request phone calls in the past year from 1800-Contacts to my office were received well after business closing hours and often on a Friday night or even on a holiday. These verification phone calls often state that my office has 24 hours to verify the prescription or it will be filled. This verification request is difficult if not impossible to complete in the allotted time frame if that request is made (and the 24 hour clock starts ticking) after regular business hours. According to my staff members best estimate at least 10% of these requests either contain incorrect information or are expired prescriptions. I have personally treated dozens of cases of inflammatory and/or infectious contact lens related conjunctivitis and/or keratitis which may be related to improper use of contact lenses and/or use of contact lenses obtained with incorrect or expired prescriptions. Ample research suggests that by simply wearing a contact lens a patient will experience a three times increase of risk for infectious keratitis and that risk increases significantly if the a patient misuses a lens by wearing it overnight and/or replaces their lenses at a frequency greater than that recommended by the FDA. Patients who are given lens brand specific prescriptions, who replace them at the correct frequency, and wear them according to their individually prescribed manner will experience a decrease in risk and can often wear contact lenses safely for a longer period of time. Though risk of complication related to contact lens use cannot be completely eliminated, risk can be mitigated by proper use and replacement of lenses. Incorrect prescriptions and expired prescriptions increase risk and have to potential of leading to long-term complication including permanent vision loss. Contact lenses are medical devices and should be treated as such. Passive prescription verification requests which come in after business hours, on weekends, and/or on holidays are negligent at best and may easily be considered reckless in that they may expose patients to unnecessary risk. While I agree that free market economics and competition should exist in the marketplace I strongly urge the FTC to reconsider these passive verification methods. It is too easy for a patient to obtain contact lenses on an expired or incorrect prescription under the current rules.