16 CFR Part 315; Agency Information Collection Activities: Review; Comment Request; Contact Lens Rule: FTC Project No. R511995
I have practiced optometry for almost 25 years, most in the community of Diamond Bar, California. Each day, I provide care for my 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 all requirements of current law regarding contact lenses prescription release at the end of the evaluation and fitting. I was disappointed to learn that the FTC will not, under its existing authority, seek to more fully address unscrupulous business practices of online contact lens sellers that have been putting the health and safety of my patients at risk for more than a decade. They are called "midnight marauders" by some of my colleagues because we all have had experiences in which online contact lens sellers fax an rx verification in the middle of the night in order to allow themselves to fulfill orders without a response from our office(s) within eight hours. Half of the time, the prescription as entered by the patient is incorrect and/or the patient was not fit with a contact lens (just spectacles) and/or is not even a patient in our office. Serious ocular complications can occur from an ill-fitting contact lens and/or non compliance on the part of a patient that overuses/overwears his or her lenses especially in an effort to avoid a necessary annual evaluation to ensure successful, healthy, asymptomatic continued contact lens wear. 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 three 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 eye care physician. 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. In the past, FTC has underestimated and subsequently corrected the estimated burden on physicians for complying with the Contact Lens Rule. I am concerned that the FTC is again underestimating the potential impact of these changes. As a law-abiding, ethical doctor and as a member of a national organization -- the American Optometric Association -- that advocates for full compliance & 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.