16 CFR Part 315; Agency Information Collection Activities: Review; Comment Request; Contact Lens Rule: FTC Project No. R511995
There must be laws in place to protect consumers, but they must also be there to protect these consumers as patients. There are numerous reasons why consumers should not automatically have their contact lens prescriptions filled without PROPER verification. I had a new patient, who lived outside the US, come in for a contact lens exam because she wanted to buy her contact lenses for a cheaper price while she was visiting the US. When I examined her corneas, she had an immense amount of corneal neovascularization from lack of oxygen caused by her contact lenses, which could, if left unchecked, permanently affect her vision. I refused to fit her with contact lenses until I was able to see that the neovascularization had decreased, and I explained my concern to her. She proceeded to tell me that she wouldn't sue me and that she just wanted her prescription for the contact lenses. I could not ethically give her a contact lens prescription because I did not want her to possibly, permanently damage her vision. This scenario is what happens when patients do not understand the impact of contact lenses as a medical device, and that they need annual examinations to make sure that they are wearing them safely and that their eyes remain healthy. If they are allowed to order them without proper verification, or if their prescription is valid longer than 1 year, there is a chance that patients like these could permanently damage their vision. It was important in my practice to verify every single prescription that was requested through phone and fax, and I made sure that my staff was vigilant about making sure we verified every prescription. However, I know that prescriptions were improperly filled online because I would see patients 3 years later for their eye exams. When I asked them how they lasted through their 1 year supply of lenses, they would sheepishly tell me that they got them repeatedly filled online without a problem. It concerns me that as doctors, we may be forced to take care of more medical issues from contact lens overuse/misuse, and the consumers may end up spending more money on these type of medical bills, rather than annual eye exams.