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    AOA asks FTC to address contact lens retail abuses

    Washington, DC—The American Optometric Association (AOA) has called upon the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to strengthen its Contact Lens Rule to prevent its manipulation by contact lens retailers for their own financial benefits, causing potential harm to patients.

    In anticipation of the FTC’s 10-year review of its Contact Lens Rule, the AOA called for its members to submit comments on changes they would like to see and any incidences of abuse they’ve experienced with contact lens retailers.

    The AOA is asking the FTC to mandate a quantity limit on contact lens Rxs, require retailers verify Rx expiration date, and halt the sale of contact lenses without a valid Rx.

    Related: AOA fights back against 1-800 CONTACTS-backed state legislation

    AOA President Steve Loomis calls the submission of comments the first step in a lengthy process. The FTC will use the comments submitted from consumers, the eyecare industry, doctors, and the AOA to make changes to the Rule. Then the FTC will call for comments on the changes, which it will take into consideration before finalizing the Rule. The process will likely take months.

    Dr. Loomis told Optometry Times the organization received dozens of personal testimonies from its members and used the responses to craft its letter to the FTC.

    “We looked at the concerns that were brought forth by our members,” says Dr. Loomis. “We were aware that the passive verification system was being abused, robocalls were being used, expired prescriptions are being filled.”

    The letter addresses a number of common problems doctors have noted with contact lens retailers, including selling lenses based on expired prescriptions and encouraging bulk purchases.

    Jeff Walline, OD, PhD, FAAO, chair of the Contact Lens and Cornea Section of the AOA, says the AOA’s comments are helping to protect patients from companies that are exploiting them to make a quick buck.

    “There are a lot of ways that these companies are skirting the intent of the law, and the AOA is trying to close up some of those loopholes,” says Dr. Walline. “I hope the FTC starts to not only look at the loopholes that have been exposed, but that it also starts to enforce the laws that are already on the books because there’s not been much enforcement at all.”

    Next: Quantity limits on prescriptions

    Colleen E. McCarthy
    Colleen McCarthy is a freelance writer based in the Cleveland area and a former editor of Optometry Times. She is a 2010 graduate of the ...

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