FTC 16 CFR Part 315 Public Workshop Examining Contact Lens Marketplace And Analyzing Proposed Changes To The Contact Lens Rule
As a doctor of optometry and a frontline provider of essential eye health and vision care in our local community, I respectfully express my concern regarding the FTC's lack of enforcement against illegal contact lens sales as well as its unnecessary and costly proposal to mandate that all eye doctors obtain from each contact lens-wearing patient a signed document indicating that the patient received a copy of their contact lens prescription. As part of the FTC's ten-year review of regulations implementing the FCLCA, the Commission issued a proposed change in 2016 which, instead of focusing on ongoing patient health and safety concerns, would mandate that every practicing eye doctors who prescribes contact lenses in the United States -- optometrists and ophthalmologists -- obtain from each of about 40 million contact lens-wearing patients a signed document indicating that the patient received a copy of their contact lens prescription. In issuing the proposed changes, the FTC has discounted patient safety concerns and justified its new paperwork mandate by pointing to anecdotal reports and industry-sponsored surveys claiming prescription release concerns. However, data obtained through a 2017 FOIA request revealed that the FTC received a total of 309 complaints over the last five years out of nearly 200 million prescriptions issued. According to FTC estimates, the new paperwork mandate would cost doctors roughly $10.5 million in the first year. A study conducted by a group of independent health economists found that, if finalized, costs could be nearly ten-times FTC estimates. While I understand that the Commission believes additional regulations are needed to address a perceived lack of compliance on the part of eye doctors, I believe that FTC time and taxpayer resources would be better served by the Commission instead focusing on exercising its existing authority to combat illegal contact lens sales. Rather than implement the current proposal, I believe that the FTC and Congress' shared goal of balancing market competition with safe and healthy use of medical devices can be achieved by greater FTC enforcement of existing healthy safeguards and by -- instead of a new paperwork mandate - requiring eye doctors to post signage in their offices notifying patients of their rights under the law and of where and how to report non-compliance. Combating illegal contact lens sales would help better safeguard patient sight while requiring posted signage of patients 'rights would help to educate consumers without adding a new regulatory cost to consumer prices while unnecessarily burdening eye doctors, many of which are small business owners. As an eye care provider, my primary goal is to protect the vision and health of my patients. More, paperwork, costs, and regulations, further dilutes my ability to focus on this and deliver the best dr/patient relationships. The proposed change only benefits corporate entities focused soley on profits from contact lens sales. In the end, the patients are the biggest losers in this. Please reject the proposed changes to contact lens rules and focus instead on consumer safety. Thank you for your time and consideration.