Contact lens consumers were urged to ask their U.S. Senator to vote against Senate bill S.4613 and protect the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) efforts to enforce the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act (FCLCA). Those efforts worked, the bill did not even make it through mark-up.
By adding only 15 words to the FCLCA, this bill would have ended a patient’s guarantee they receive a copy of their prescription. And, it would have stripped the FTC of their enforcement powers completely. Without enforcement, optometrists would be free to continue to ignore the law as they have for almost two decades.
Only optometrists would benefit from bills like this, not patients. It is important to note the sponsor of the bill was Senator Boozman (R-AR), an optometrist by profession.
The optometry industry has relentlessly sought to restore its grip on American consumers after patients won the right to shop around in 2003 with the passage of the FCLCA. This act required optometrists to provide, unprompted, a copy of the contact lens prescription to the patient at the end of the contact lens fitting. The bill came equipped with stiff penalties, but no means of enforcement.
In a recent study, the FTC found that as few as 50 percent of eye doctors provided a copy of the prescription as required. This can be attributed to optometrists’ inherent conflict of interest: they also sell contact lenses. Eye doctors profit from keeping patients handcuffed to their practice.
In June, the FTC commissioners unanimously issued new enforcement rules. To prove that the optometrist is obeying the law, they must obtain a signed receipt from the patient for the prescription, and they must retain this receipt for three years.
At Lens.com, our customers continue to report issues with getting their prescriptions from their optometrist. This makes it difficult for our customers to access the products they need, when they need them, at a price they deserve.
We cannot let the optometry industry turn back the clock on enforcement of consumer protections. We’ll let you know the next time the American Optometric Association, or anyone else tries to get a bill passed to rob you of your rights.