16 CFR Part 315; Agency Information Collection Activities: Review; Comment Request; Contact Lens Rule: FTC Project No. R511995 #03659

Submission Number:
03659
Commenter:
Richard Stewart
State:
Arizona
Initiative Name:
16 CFR Part 315; Agency Information Collection Activities: Review; Comment Request; Contact Lens Rule: FTC Project No. R511995
I have been a practicing doctor of optometry for over 25 years. Approximately 35% to 40% of my patients wear contact lenses. As a doctor, and unlike online contact lens retailers, it is my primary ethical responsibility is to place my patients' interest and health first and foremost. First, I would like to make clear that I, again, unlike online contact lens retailers, comply with the requirements of the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act (FCLCA) and the corresponding Contact Lens Rule by providing copies of contact lens prescriptions to contact lens wearing patients at the end of the contact lens fitting process. A process that, at times, can take weeks to complete. I feel it deeply disturbing to learn that the FTC will not, under its existing authority, seek to more-fully address unscrupulous business practices of online contact lens retailers that have been putting the health and safety of my patients at risk for more than a decade. For example, I have countless examples of online contact lens retailers filling prescriptions that have been expired for years and switching patients into lenses inappropriate for their mode of wear. Recently I had a patient call because they had received the incorrect lenses from an online retailer at the very same time a fax for verification was coming through through for that patient. Just one of countless examples of online contact lens retailers not complying with the FCLCA. I oppose the new FTC proposal to require that all contact lens wearing patients sign an acknowledgement of receipt of a contact lens prescription and that I keep this form on file for years. This requirement seems to be a heavy-handed step which presupposes that all doctors of optometry are not complying with federal law. It also would seem to disrupt the doctor-patient relationship by communicating to patients that they should be wary of their physician and assume that their doctor is a violator of federal law. Additionally, while the FTC seems to dismiss the potential burden on physicians for complying with this requirement, the proposal would undoubtedly add new costs for doctors and patients. It would require an additional step in the patient engagement process, which would necessitate ongoing staff training to ensure that doctors are meeting this unprecedented requirement. It would also require that doctors maintain these patient-signed forms for a number of years for possible review at a later date. In the past, FTC has underestimated and subsequently corrected the estimated burden on physicians for complying with the Contact Lens Rule. I am disturbed that once again the FTC is underestimating the potential impact of these changes. In closing, let me make clear that those who violate the contact lens rule should face enforcement action. As a law-abiding, ethical doctor and as a member of a national organization -- the American Optometric Association -- that advocates for full compliance and has sought FTC guidance for its doctor education materials, I fear being penalized in a severe and ongoing way for the potential actions of a very few outliers. Accordingly, I respectfully request that the Commission look again at the costly impact of this burdensome proposal and, in doing so, give new and careful consideration to how it will harm tens of thousands of small and mid-sized eye care practices in communities across our country and serve as the basis for an utterly false and hostile presumption for my patients. Sincerely,