16 CFR Part 315; Agency Information Collection Activities: Review; Comment Request; Contact Lens Rule: FTC Project No. R511995
As a practicing optometrist, I feel the need to comment on the upcoming proposed changes. I cannot disagree more with requiring more documentation requirements. There have been numerous times that, after providing a patient with a current copy of their contact lens prescription, they have lost it, misplaced or just can't find it. I always give them a second or third copy. The question becomes, where does the patients' responsibility come into play? Would I have to have additional documentation each time I hand them their prescription? The other aspect to keep in mind is the patients' ocular health. On a daily basis I find that contact lens wearers do not follow the prescribed wearing schedule with a majority of wearing their lenses weeks to months longer than prescribed. In the last week alone, I had a new patient who wears their daily disposable lenses for a month at a time. I consistently have patients who are prescribed two week disposable lenses that wear them for one to two months at a time. I even have had patients in the 30 day extended wear who admittedly wear them for 4-6 months straight! Needless to say, all of these patients are re-educated on proper lens wear time, lens cleaning and possible ocular health issues that could result from improper wear. This leads me to online re-sellers. The competition in the contact lens market is fierce. Their ability to sell lenses at costs that are sometimes less than what I can purchase at wholesale, is bothersome to say the least. Unless I have a patient in a highly specialized, custom fit lens, this segment of my business is not a substantial revenue source for my practice. The bigger issue is the online retailers desire to sell to the patient at any cost. Patients tell me they receive emails starting about a month before their prescription expires. The retailer encouraging them to buy more before they need the exam. Thereby suggesting that annual exams are not necessary and putting patients at risk. In the last month, I had a patient come in who had not had an eye exam in over 10 years and was wearing opaque colored contacts. She said she had been purchasing them online from "1800 colors" for the last 10 years! Without a current prescription! As you can see, she did not even know the name of the place she was purchasing them. She said they were not always the same brand or same color. Her best corrected acuity was adversely affected, her corneas were swollen, she had subepitheilial infiltrates, microcysts and keratitis. She is now out of contacts until further notice while we wait for her corneas to return to normal and for her prescription to stop fluctuating. I understand the patients desire to cost effectively obtain their contact lenses, but as a professional, I need to know that they are following my recommendations and that their corneal health is not compromised because of the poor practices put in place by other companies. I doubt that the online resellers first priority is the patients' ocular health. It is making money. As a medical eye care office, we face numerous policies that encumber patient care. The last thing we need is to have to print yet another piece of paperwork that the patient will lose anyway. This should always be about quality patient care. Adding more paperwork is not quality patient care. Please keep this in mind as you consider the legislation. Does this make patient care better? Are there any additional ramifications for the improper filling of the prescription? There should be. The online re-sellers have been finding and utilizing the loop holes for too long. And, it many cases, they have just plain ignored the legislation that is already in place. It's time to make them accountable for their actions. Thank you for your time and please vote down this proposed legislation.