16 CFR Part 315; Agency Information Collection Activities: Review; Comment Request; Contact Lens Rule: FTC Project No. R511995
I am an optometry student at University of California Berkeley School of Optometry 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. I believe that this is a blatant misuse of the way the original Rule was intended to be used. The 2. Prohibit the use of robocalls for verifying patient prescriptions. The calls are often too long and confusing. In my experience, the automated messages can waste up to 20 minutes of precious time on the phone, listening to a robot give a long list of options. This greatly interferes with patient care and inhibits productivity in the workplace. 3. Prohibit the sale of contact lenses with an expired prescription. An expired prescription should be seen as an inherently invalid prescription. Allowing contact lenses to be sold with an outdated prescription can lead to various ocular complications, many of which can permanently damage vision. 4.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. The ocular surface can change in the span of a year, and it is important that an optomestrist or ophthalmologist evaluate a patient's eyes at a routine visit. 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.