16 CFR Part 315; Agency Information Collection Activities: Review; Comment Request; Contact Lens Rule: FTC Project No. R511995
I am a student of optometry and appreciate this opportunity to offer comment on the Contact Lens Rule. I have only just started seeing my own patients in clinic about a few months ago, but already I have experienced negative effects from the Contact Lens Rule. Numerous patients of mine have entered clinic to deal with contact lens related issues that they received online. If only they had received their contact lenses from us and come back into our clinic for the appropriate checkups, 90% of the issues could have been avoided. The Contact Lens Rule (the Rule) and the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act (FCLCA) were intended to enhance competition in the market for contact lenses by creating a federal right of patients to receive contact lens prescriptions from their eye doctors, and establishing a process for contact lens sellers to verify the prescriptions of lenses ordered by consumers. However, as regulated medical devices that require a prescription from an optometrist or ophthalmologist, contact lenses have always been subject to government oversight. Too often in the last decade, the FTC has silently allowed some sellers to repeatedly fill contact lens prescriptions well past the expiration date - in some instances putting the patients' sight in jeopardy. The passive verification method has incentivized contact lens sellers to game the system. Thus, the FTC should modify the Rule to better protect the public: 1. Prohibit sellers from sending prescription verifications after business hours and on weekends. Sellers frequently fill unverified prescriptions because the prescriber has not had eight business hours to respond due to his or her practice being closed after hours. 2. Prohibit the use of robocalls for verifying patient prescriptions. The calls are often too long and confusing. 3. Prohibit the sale of contact lenses with an expired prescription. An expired prescription should be seen as an inherently invalid prescription. 4. Require that contact lens prescriptions include a maximum quantity of lenses that can be purchased prior to the prescription's expiration. The amount should not exceed the maximum quantity noted on the patient's prescription. Because contact lenses are medical devices, an active verification system would better protect the public. Patients' eye health is put at risk by unscrupulous companies seeking to maximize sales. Therefore, I strongly urge the FTC to strengthen the Rule to protect the public's eye health.