16 CFR Part 315; Agency Information Collection Activities: Review; Comment Request; Contact Lens Rule: FTC Project No. R511995
As a practicing doctor of optometry, I am opposed to the recent FTC proposals that would place an unnecessary burden on doctors of optometry. I am also disappointed with the FTC's indifference at the dangerous business practices of online contact lens sellers and how this new proposal would directly benefit online business who do not seem to prioritize patient safety. First of all, I would like to make it 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 patients at the end of the contact lens fitting process. The new FTC proposal for doctors of optometry to have doctors and patients complete more paper work for doing the same thing is unnecessary and inefficient. For example, on a average day I can see about twenty five patients, many of whom are contact lens wearers. I foresee that it would take about three extra minutes for patients to read, understand, and sign the additional documents, perhaps longer. In my practice, adding three minutes to twenty exams could result in a whole hour of redundant busy work each day. For a small practice that is already operating on very low margins, an hour of lost productivity per day would be devastating. We must also take into account that those records need to be saved, filed, and kept on record for three years. All of which requires additional time, training, and resources. Additionally, this waiver is humiliating and insulting. It would undermine the trust and confidence my patient has in my professionalism and the eight years of education to earn the right to serve them as their doctor. Not only is this proposed waiver redundant, costly, and humiliating, it is also a blatant advertisement for the online contact lens industry! In this day in age you can buy almost anything online. However, when someone goes to the store to buy shoes or tools or books they are not handed a slip at checkout that says "these same items are also available on Amazon.com". The truth of the matter is that this new proposed waiver is an advertisement for online contact lens sellers; an industry that does not seem to value patient safety. The main problem with the online contact lens sales system is the passive verification process for prescriptions. This system gives online retailers the authority to release any contact prescription typed in online by any patient without the explicit consent of a doctor; as long as eight business hours elapse after a notification is sent by the online retailer to any doctors office. There is no documented verification to make sure the person is actually a patient of that doctor, no safeguard to make sure the person is who they say they are, and no way to confirm that the correct doctor actually received the communication within that short eight hour window. This passive system leaves room for all kinds of mishaps which result in patients getting the wrong contact lens prescription. I know from personal experience that when patients are provided a contact lens that is not prescribed for them it can cause serious problems. When I was in high school, my father tried to save some money and buy my contacts online. He accidentally entered the wrong type of lens into the online ordering system and the business sent me the incorrect lenses, not the ones prescribed by the doctor. These improperly prescribed lenses caused my eyes to have an adverse reaction that resulted in me developing a chronic condition under my eyelids. To this day if I want to wear contacts I have to wear expensive, specialty lenses or else my eyes will become unbearably irritated. I am opposed to the recent FTC proposals requiring doctors of optometry to submit to redundant, costly, and harmful waivers for contact lens prescriptions. Instead, the FTC should focus efforts of reform towards cleaning up the online contact lens seller's law bending practices.