16 CFR Part 315; Agency Information Collection Activities: Review; Comment Request; Contact Lens Rule: FTC Project No. R511995
I am a doctor of optometry student and appreciate this opportunity to offer comment on the Contact Lens Rule. 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. Too many times when I was working at an office, I would be interrupted by a contact lens verification call from 1-800 contacts. They don't allow you to hangup without them calling you back right away. I have to put aside everything I am do, even when I am with a patient in order to listen to the option to have them call you back in 5 minutes. This verification process is really time consuming. I have also seen many patients whose prescription is wrong and when they fax it to our office while we are closed, the patient ends up ordering the wrong prescription. Then they come back to the office to complain that they cannot see. As a current third year student, I have already encountered numerous patients who come in as an urgent care because they have been abusing their contact lenses. They come in with bacterial infections, ulcers, etc. They clearly have been overwearing them and not having the contact lenses evaluated on their eyes each year. Yet 1-800 contacts continues to promote this type of behavior by bashing on our profession. I strongly urge the FTC to strengthen the Rule to protect the public's eye health.