FTC to Review Eyeglass Rule, Seeks Public Comment. Important Issues Raised

As part of the Federal Trade Commission’s systematic review of all current FTC regulations, the FTC is seeking public comment on the efficiency, costs, benefits, and impact of the Ophthalmic Practice Rules (Eyeglass Rule).

Issued  in 1978, the Rule helps promote competition in the eyeglass market by requiring optometrists and ophthalmologists to provide an eyeglass prescription to patients, at no extra cost, immediately after an eye examination is completed.

The Commission vote approving the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was 5-0. It is available on the FTC’s website and will be published in the Federal Register soon. Instructions for filing comments appear in the Federal Register Notice. Comments must be received by October 26, 2015. All comments received will be posted at www.ftc.gov/os/publiccomments.shtm.

Following the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) request for comment, some prominent politicians and eyecare professionals have added their voices to request changes to the Eyeglass Rule.

Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) held a press conference and released a statement calling on the FTC to update regulations on eyeglass prescriptions requiring eyecare providers to give complete eyeglass prescription information to consumers. He cited “sky-high prices” and the need to shop around at stores and online among the reasons for changing the FTC rules to “promote competition and dramatically lower eyeglass prices.”

American Optometric Association president-elect Andrea P. Thau, OD, of New York, appeared at the news conference to ask the Senator to investigate any control over the market that some eyewear companies and some insurance companies that also sell glasses might have.

In his statement, Schumer requested that the FTC allow “for 21st-century competition by allowing patients to obtain a full copy of their eyeglass prescriptions so they can take that prescription anywhere they want—even online. Eyeglasses are a necessity for millions of Americans, yet sky-high prices are making them unaffordable. We need more oversight when it comes to the cost of eyeglasses and one way to do that is to require patients get their full prescriptions so they can shop around in stores and online for the best deal. Consumers need more options when it comes to eyeglasses and that’s why the FTC should update the ‘Eyeglass Rule’ in a way that helps spur competition and dramatically lower prices.”

Schumer specifically requested that the FTC consider the following changes to the Eyeglass Rule: “require eyecare providers to provide complete eyeglass prescription information to consumers, including specifics like pupillary distance. Require prescription providers to verify prescription information for third party sellers in a reasonable time, allowing a consumer to take their prescription wherever they desire. Require eyeglass prescriptions to last longer than just one year, so consumers have more time to comparison shop.” Additionally, Schumer said his push is being made to spur the FTC to recognize the increasing role of e-commerce in the eyeglass marketplace.

Anyone can post additional comments on the FTC site by Oct. 26, 2015.

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About Arthur De Gennaro

My friends call me Art. Welcome to my blog. In this space you’ll find information and comments on the ophthalmology world, the optical industry, the hearing industry and medical practice management. My intent is to provide information you can use to improve your business and your own performance. Please visit often and feel free to join the discussions by leaving comments.

You can learn more about me and my consulting company, Arthur De Gennaro & Associates, LLC by visiting my web site www.adegennaro.com

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