• Help Shape Important Contact Lens Prescribing Regulations


    The Academy is launching a campaign to reject a federal proposal to place new administrative requirements on contact lens prescribers. The Federal Trade Commission, in its proposed changes to the Contact Lens Rule, continues to insist on prescription-receipt verification process that would require prescribers to store three years of records.

    That requirement would place an unfair burden on ophthalmology practices. This new burden is also unwarranted, as there is little evidence that ophthalmologists are not in compliance with the existing Contact Lens Rule. The Academy will formally submit our position in advance of the end of the comment period in late July and are urging you to add your important voice to this issue. Submit your comments here. The deadline to submit comments is July 29, 2019.

    In its latest proposal, the FTC expands the available options through which a prescriber can get confirmation that a patient has received a contact lens prescription:

    • Requesting that the patient acknowledge receipt of the prescription by signing a separate confirmation statement
    • Requesting that the patient sign a prescriber-retained copy of the prescription that contains a statement confirming the patient has received it
    • Requesting that the patient sign a prescriber-retained copy of the sales receipt for the examination that contains a statement confirming the patient received the prescription
    • Providing the patient with a digital copy of the prescription and retaining evidence that it was sent and received or made accessible, downloadable and printable
    • Prescribers would have to maintain evidence that they satisfied the Confirmation of Prescription Release requirement for at least three years, a proposal the Academy rejected last year.

    Use the Academy’s online advocacy tool to send your letter to the FTC today. Share your story.

    Background

    The Contact Lens Rule outlines requirements that prescribers and sellers of contact lenses must meet under the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act. Under the rule, sellers must contact prescribers to verify prescriptions provided by a given patient. Under FCLCA, prescribers have an eight-business-hour window to verify prescriptions or identify errors and provide corrections. If prescribers don’t contact sellers within eight business hours, they automatically verify the prescription.   

    In 2015 the Federal Trade Commission reviewed this rule. During the course of this review, contact-lens prescribers expressed concerns that sellers have frequently engaged in business practices that exploit loopholes in federal statute to the detriment of patients. 

    Since 2004, numerous sellers have been reported for selling contacts without prescriptions and prescribers have reported incorrect or expired prescriptions being filled at a high rate. In response, sellers argued that prescribers were not providing patients with copies of their prescriptions. 

    In December 2016, the FTC published a series of proposed amendments to the Contact Lens Rule. The Academy opposed these proposed changes because they would add new administrative burdens to prescribers. 

    Under these proposals, patients would need to sign a prescription-receipt acknowledgment form that the prescriber must keep on file for three years. The FTC has proposed this modification to address concerns voiced by contact-lens sellers that prescribers do not give patients copies of their prescriptions. 

    In the May 2019 proposed changes to the Contact Lens Rule, prescribers will have to satisfy a new Confirmation of Prescription Release requirement in one of several ways:

    • requesting that the patient acknowledge receipt of the contact lens prescription by signing a separate confirmation statement;
    • requesting that the patient sign a prescriber-retained copy of the prescription that contains a statement confirming the patient has received it;
    • requesting that the patient sign a prescriber-retained copy of the sales receipt for the examination that contains a statement confirming the patient received the prescription; or
    • providing the patient with a digital copy of the prescription, and retaining evidence that it was sent, received, or made accessible, downloadable, and printable.

    The prescriber will have to maintain evidence that they satisfied the Confirmation of Prescription Release requirement for at least three years.

    Given the lack of evidence that prescribers like you don’t give patients copies of their prescriptions, the Academy strongly objects to this proposal.

    You Can Impact the Regulatory Process

    Influencing an agency’s rulemaking process is fundamentally different from influencing Congress.

    • Although Congress can be influenced by public outcry on an issue, agencies are much more likely to be swayed by thoughtful responses and arguments that are backed up by expertise or scientific evidence.
    • Comment letters should illustrate the real-world effect this proposal will have on ophthalmologists, practices and ophthalmic patients.

    By submitting a unique comment letter, you will play a key role in the Academy’s efforts to ensure that the FTC does not finalize this proposed change to the Contact Lens Rule.