NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

LAW ALLOWS CONTACT LENS WEARERS TO BUY LENSES ELSEWHERE

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.

For article text: http://www.cato.org/pubs/regulation/regv27n1/mercreport.pdf

 

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