16 CFR Part 315; Agency Information Collection Activities: Review; Comment Request; Contact Lens Rule: FTC Project No. R511995
I am a practicing doctor of optometry. On a yearly basis, I provide care for many contact lens wearing patients. As a doctor, and in accordance with the American Optometric Association's Standards of Professional Conduct, my primary ethical responsibility is to place my patients' interest above my own. First, I would like to make clear that I 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. Proposed Contact Lens Rule revisions add new prescription requirements that I and the American Optometric Association (AOA) believe are imbalanced and do little to address patient safety concerns. The new stipulation would force us to have patients sign an acknowledgement that they received a copy of their Rx and that they understand that they can purchase lenses from the seller of their choice. We would not only have to have patients sign what should already be a self-evident acknowledgement, but also maintain a copy for three years. It will require a greater financial burden to my practice, but also a greater inconvenience and likely financial burden to the patients in my practice. Instead of modifying a contact lens during an ongoing fitting and then advising the patient to call the office or email me to confirm if the change is acceptable in terms of comfort and vision, I will be required to force a patient to return to the office for a follow-up visit, or a contact lens progress exam. This will inconvenience the patient by requiring more time out of work or school, the cost of reporting to the office, and the time out of their day for any possible waiting and appointment. This will only be required because of the necessity of obtaining their signature on the patient acknowledgement form. What patient would wish an otherwise unnecessary visit be required in order to sign paperwork and comply with the FTC rules? The AOA does not condone violations of the Contact Lens Rule, nor am I or the AOA aware of any widespread noncompliance that would justify the FTC to take such drastic, anti-competitive actions. I believe there are better strategies to achieving the FTC's goals for the Contact Lens Rule and will be willing to continue working with the FTC to determine a better path forward that does not unduly burden patients and contact lens prescribers. 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. Thank you for your consideration.