16 CFR Part 315; Agency Information Collection Activities: Review; Comment Request; Contact Lens Rule: FTC Project No. R511995
The Fairness to CL act meant to protect consumers from unfair practices. However, over my career, I have seen it, instead, allow retail to persuade consumers to make choices against that may put their health at risk. Contact lenses are medical devices. They are a piece of plastic that sit directly on the cornea. There are serious risks to contact lens wear, that include infection, abrasions, keratitis, ulceration, loss of vision, and even blindness. They are not all the same. They do not all fit the same. While many patients will find a healthy fit with a wide variety of options, many patients have fewer safe options. THIS DECISION CAN ONLY BE DETERMINED BY DOCTOR OF OPTOMETRY OR OPHTHALMOLOGIST AND CAN NOT BE ALTERED OR CHANGED BY ANY RETAILER. However, even though there are laws in place to prevent this, they are not enforced. Online retailers, specifically 1-800-CONTACTS, does not follow the laws. Verification forms are sent merely to look like they comply. I will deny a request for expiration, but the patient gets them mailed anyways. Many patients tell me they order online, but no notification has ever been faxed or called. 1-800-CONTACTS also will not respect a number of refills on the Rx. Instead, they will email the patient before their Rx expires and tell them to order more. Patients then order another year of contacts and then cancel their yearly examination. This is in direct violation of the federal law requiring patients to have a yearly contact lens. This is not a ploy by eye doctors to take money from citizens; this is a law protecting our patients from adverse effects related to wearing their medical device. Contact lens abuse is a real health problem. Since the Fairness to CL Act, contact lenses have been turned into a commodity and their perception by the general public has changed. They are no longer considered a privilege, they are now just a consumer product that has no medical value, and therefore can't possibly have serious risks. The FTCL act needs to do a better job at preserving the medical device aspect of contact lens wear. Unless the FTC starts to uphold it's own laws, this perception will continue, and online retailers will have no reason to abide by the laws.