16 CFR Part 315; Agency Information Collection Activities: Review; Comment Request; Contact Lens Rule: FTC Project No. R511995
In December 2015, I had a patient who saw me for a second opinion. He had been purchasing his contact lenses from 1-800 Contacs for 3 years without seeing a doctor. This retailer continued sending him lenses through passive verification, a system that is clearly broken, and allows online retailers to circumvent prescription requirements of contact lenses (medical devices) in place to protect patients. He had some eye irritation and went to see a local ophthalmologist. The ophthalmologist sent him directly to a cornea specialist's office. While he was in the waiting room, his eye perforated from a bacterial infection associated with the contact lens. He was rushed into emergency surgery and had a corneal transplant. Because of the size and location of the transplant, his corneal graft is known to fail within 5 years, leaving him blind in that eye. An image of his left eye after the corneal transplant is attached. Doctors of optometry are trained to see warning signs that the eyes give as the risk of these infections increases. Eye examinations also give an opportunity for the doctor and patient to discuss hygiene and wearing habits, which is the number one risk factor for developing sight threatening infections. There are 33,000 small business owner optometrists practicing across the country who are concerned with protecting patients safety and well-being, By contrast, there are 4-5 large global contact lens retailers who care little about patient safety and are purely profit driven. Somehow, these self-serving conglomerates have wrongly convinced the FTC that optometrists are breaking the rules and not releasing prescriptions. This is purely a false accusation. I release all of my prescriptions as required by the FCLCA. The FTC seems to be concentrating on a few blatant offenders and punishing every patient and every optometrist with a wild, overreaching regulatory change. Please make no mistake, if this rule goes into effect, it will raise the cost of professional fees for the 41 million contact lens wearers. Not wanting to risk a large fine, I will be forced to have some patients return for unnecessary visits, simply to sign a piece of paper noting that they received their prescription, even if I have already provided the prescription to the patient via mail or e-mail.