FTC 16 CFR Part 315 Public Workshop Examining Contact Lens Marketplace And Analyzing Proposed Changes To The Contact Lens Rule
I am writing to voice my opposition to the proposed changes to the "Contact Lens Rule." As a Doctor of Optometry in a private practice setting, I believe the proposed changes will place an unnecessary, costly burden on the Optometric and Ophthalmologic professions. Furthermore, it will continue to shift the focus away from what should be the number one priority: patient safety. Forcing healthcare providers to have patients sign a document acknowledging they have received a copy of their contact lens prescription is a waste of both patient and staff time and monetary resources to maintain these records. This is a gambit by online retailers, who aren't held to the same standards, to increase the burden on their perceived competition. The truth, however, is the problem they seek to solve is not a problem at all. From 2011 to 2016 only 309 patients filed broad contact lens complaints to the FTC from an estimated 200 million contact lens prescriptions written. Even with an exponential inflation of these numbers, this is a problem for less than 0.001% of patients. I would argue that our patients are more aware than ever of online commerce in all industries and professions. In our practice, we have never refused a valid prescription to any patient that has asked for one. We are well aware that patients have the right to buy their contact lenses wherever they see fit, as long as they receive what is prescribed. The narrative from the opposition is that Optometry is seeking to limit competition and increase our own profits, which is disingenuous and patently false. This proposed rule change helps distract from the unscrupulous tactics some retailers use to sell federally regulated medical devices. The loopholes with passive verification allow the illegal sale of contact lenses without valid prescriptions to be easy and difficult to enforce violations. One major concern is the ability of online retailers to illegally substitute contact lens brands or materials from what was prescribed. Imagine if a pharmacy could knowingly change your prescribed medications without the approval from the prescribing doctor. Even if a contact lens were to be considered a commodity versus a medical device, a similar analogy would be if you bought shoes online, but received a different type of shoe, quite possibly in another size or shape. Contact lenses, however, are medical devices with the ability to cause devastating harm to the eye and even blindness. I sincerely hope whatever decision is made moving forward that patient safety is a priority over profits. There are obvious flaws to the current system, but forcing more paperwork on both patients and providers will not make the system better in any way.