NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


May 21, 2004

Individuals who wear contact lenses will now be able take their prescriptions with them and purchase contact lenses at a provider of their choosing, according to Regulation magazine.

The Federal Trade Commission recently proposed regulations implementing the new Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act, which:

  • Prohibits optometrists and ophthalmologists from requiring patients to purchase contact lenses from them as a condition of doing an eye exam.
  • Prohibits eye doctors from charging patients for a copy of their prescription.
  • Requires eye doctors to provide or verify a prescription when a patient purchases contact lenses from another seller..

The impetus for the federal law was the growing business of Internet and mail-order lens sellers. However, for the first time, the law made it a clear violation of federal law to dispense contract lenses without a prescription, which some observers say will limit consumers' choices. But it does require eye doctors to treat prescriptions as the customers' property.

Source: "Contact Lens Prescription Release," Regulation, Spring 2004, Cato Institute.

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