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Contact Lens Rule Revisions Aren’t Enough, AOA Says

“It is critical that every doctor provides feedback to the survey,” president says.

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(PRESS RELEASE) On May 2, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released supplementary rulemaking to adjust the Commission’s proposed changes to the Contact Lens Rule.

For the past two and a half years, the AOA has opposed the FTC recommendation to require contact lens prescribers to obtain a signed form from their contact lens-wearing patients after the contact lens prescription has been provided. The AOA also continued to urge the FTC to strengthen the rule to prioritize a crackdown on internet retailers violating patient health and safety laws.

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“The power of AOA advocacy, when buoyed by the strength of all doctors of optometry speaking with the same voice, is evident in the FTC’s recent revisions,” says AOA President Samuel D. Pierce, O.D. “The new proposed rule includes recommendations that are direct results of our hard work; however, these changes fall short of what is needed to protect patients and we will persevere.”

Key Takeaways, Next Steps

The AOA remains concerned with any FTC requirements that create an additional burden on doctors and their patients. Any additional regulatory requirement on physicians flies in the face of the current administration’s effort to address regulatory excess in health care. The AOA has raised these concerns at the highest levels in the executive branch and will continue to do so. The AOA also will continue working to enlist the even more than 100 senators and House members who have already joined the AOA in urging the FTC to withdraw its burdensome requirements and to target illegal contact lens sales and other anti-patient abuses.

The FTC’s initial proposed rule in 2016 included no additional requirements for contact lens retailers. Since then, the AOA has consistently reported dozens of contact lens retailers with dangerous business practices to the FTC. As a result, the May 2019 proposal would impose new requirements on contact lens retailers. The FTC notes these changes are intended to address, in large part, the companies that sell their own brand of lenses, which the AOA has repeatedly reported to the FTC. The FTC noted, “the Commission is aware that more sellers have been entering the market to sell their own brands of lenses directly to consumers, and this, along with a large number of complaints and anecdotal reports of instances of alteration by online sellers-some of which describe vision-threatening injuries-necessitate modifications to the Rule.” The FTC also made clear, “any attempt to substitute another lens, including a seller’s own brand, for the prescribed lens thwarts the purpose of the Act, which is to allow sellers to sell contact lenses as prescribed by the consumer’s eye-care provider.” While the FTC must do more to ensure safety in the market, the updated proposal takes aim at true and widespread contact lens retailer issues that the Commission was previously unwilling to act on.

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The FTC also has proposed to implement new requirements for robocalls. The FTC indicated, “Concerns about passive verification resulting in patients receiving contact lenses for which they have no prescription are not new and were considered when Congress passed the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act and in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in 2016. What is new, however, is the emergence of business models that rely almost exclusively on passive verification as a means to substitute their own brand of daily contact lenses.” While the AOA appreciates that the Commission has finally acknowledged how these calls are being used to subvert verification rules, it remains opposed to the use of robocalls to confirm contact lens prescriptions. That is why the AOA will continue to build support for the Contact Lens Prescription Verification Modernization Act. Doctors can click here to reach out to members of Congress in support of this bill.

The typical rulemaking process involves a proposed rule followed by a public comment period and then a final rule. For this rulemaking, there has been a proposed rule, a public workshop and now supplementary rulemaking with a comment period. It’s clear-optometry does not back down when patients are being put at risk.

In the next 60-day comment period, the AOA will develop a response to the FTC proposals and will call on members to make their voices heard. To inform the comments, AOA asks every doctor to complete this survey.
“It is critical that every doctor provides feedback to the survey,” AOA President-elect Barbara L. Horn, O.D., says. “Your input will provide us with important information that can help us to best advocate for doctors and our patients.”

The May 2, 2019, proposals put forward by the FTC are not final. As it has done over the past two and a half years, the AOA will continue to fight for doctors and their patients.

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Press Releases

Coburn Technologies Introduces TruBlu Edging Pads

It’s a general-purpose blocking pad.

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(PRESS RELEASE) SOUTH WINDSOR, CT – Coburn Technologies, Inc. introduces TruBlu edging pads. Compatible with all types of lens materials, styles and base curves, TruBlu is a general-purpose blocking pad, which also provides a secure bond on most AR coatings. TruBlu edging pads are manufactured at the Coburn manufacturing facility in South Windsor, Connecticut.

“With proven performance at various testing facilities worldwide, TruBlu Edging pads are engineered for excellent adhesion,” states Khristina Selley, consumables sales manager at Coburn Technologies.

“TruBlu also provides excellent torque resistance with clean removability from the lens and block,” states Selley. She added, “TruBlu edging pads are available in most common shapes and configurations with a precision die cut.”

TruBlu edging pads will be showcased at this year’s Vision Expo West in Las Vegas at booth LP6075 and are also available through Coburn’s brand new e-commerce site, www.shopcoburn.com, where eye care professionals can conveniently order consumables and spare parts. For more information, visit the site or directly contact a representative at 1-800-COBURN1.

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Press Releases

Innovega Launches Equity Crowdfunding Campaign with Crowdfunder

Funds will be earmarked to move Innovega’s eMacula toward commercial launch.

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(PRESS RELEASE) BELLEVUE, WA — Innovega Inc., a company engaged in developing stylish, lightweight, wearable display technology with a panoramic field of view for virtual and augmented reality, launched an equity crowdfunding round with Crowdfunder, a leader in funding high-growth ventures. Funds will be earmarked to move Innovega’s eMacula toward commercial launch.

Innovega’s eMacula is a wearable display system that includes patented disposable soft contact lenses (“smart lenses”) and a range of display eyewear (“smart glasses”). This combination system meets wearers’ parallel demands for lightweight, stylish eyewear and access to high-quality media with a high-resolution, panoramic field of view. eMacula provides a synthesis of features that is unavailable in other AR/VR products — which are typically encumbered by heavy, obtrusive headsets or eyewear with a narrow display field.

With a network of more than 130,000 entrepreneurs and investors, Crowdfunder is an equity crowdfunding leader for sourcing and funding high-growth ventures. Crowdfunder provides access to a global network of accredited investors who participate in funding startups.

Innovega’s business model allows established contact lens manufacturers to bring the eMacula system’s smart lenses to market, and allows multiple manufacturing and distribution partners to commercialize its display eyewear, configured for many applications or use cases. Its patented portfolio of Enhanced Retina Technologies covers the system of contact lenses and smart glasses, including key sub-systems such as eye tracking, and is protected by twenty-six filed patent applications and thirteen granted U.S. patents.

To learn more about Innovega and the eMacula system, and the opportunity for equity investment during the current limited-time funding round, please visit https://www.crowdfunder.com/innovega.

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Press Releases

VSP Global Premier Program to Launch National Consumer Advertising Campaign and Program Enhancements

This is in support of private practice.

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(PRESS RELEASE) RANCHO CORDOVA, CA – As part of its commitment to support private practice Doctors of Optometry, theVSP Global Premier Program announced it will launch a national consumer advertising campaign, designed to drive patients to Premier Program practices. Debuting later this month, a mix of television, radio, outdoor, and digital advertising will motivate patients to schedule an appointment at a local Premier Program private practice, where they can maximize their benefits and receive a personalized eye care experience.

Enhancements to the Premier Program were also announced to provide doctors more of what they are asking for: improved revenue opportunities, more patients, marketing and exclusive offers, as well as access to the best brands and robust staff training and education.

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Through a new tiered loyalty framework, the Premier Program offers a competitive advantage to private practice through business-building benefits, increased patient traffic, and greater profitability.

“Doctors have asked for greater choice and flexibility, and we’re excited to expand the Premier Program in response to that feedback and support private practice’s ability to differentiate and compete,” said Michelle Skinner, VSP Global’s chief provider relations officer.

Practices can choose their level of participation from three new distinct tiers. To unlock the benefits, practices must meet tier criteria, including flexible combined purchases within the last 12 months from Marchon Eyewear, Altair Eyewear, and VSP Optics. Qualifying practices must also offer consumer conveniences like retinal imaging, exclusive VSP ‘Member Extra’ offers, and free fittings and adjustments. Tiers and key benefits include:

  • Silver: Practices can leverage My Marketing Team to increase patient engagement and will have full access toPremier Academy360.
  • Gold: In addition to enjoying all Silver benefits, practices will receive thePremier Program banner, enhancing their listing on vsp.com to increase patient traffic, complete with online appointment scheduling and more. They will also enjoy special offers and discounts withPremier Program Partners.
  • Platinum: In addition to all Silver and Gold benefits, practices will unlockadditional payments and rewards. They will also have access to job posting andrecruitment services, as well as enhanced marketing services, including complimentary social media management and much more.

Practices can learn more at: EnhancedPremier.com

Additionally, in response to feedback from doctors, Premier Academy360 is a new educational platform which will soon be made available to practices participating in the Premier Program. Premier Academy360 will offer comprehensive training and education programs tailored to VSP network doctors and staff. Designed to expand potential practice services, enhance the patient experience, and save doctors time and money on staff development, it will include 24/7 online education, webinars, and in-person workshops.

Since the Premier Program’s inception in 2013, $9.2 billion in revenue has been delivered to participating practices, with over 32 million patient visits – with nearly half of them being new patients. Data shows that practices with the Premier Program banner average 2 times more clicks on the vsp.com ‘Find A Doctor’ directory than those without. In 2018, VSP sent 1.4 million members direct marketing encouraging them to visit Premier Program locations to maximize their vision benefits and take advantage of special offers, which helped reduce out-of-network claims.

“In fulfilling our mission of helping people see, we remain committed to connecting VSP members with the core of our network – Premier Program private practices,” added Michael Guyette, president and CEO of VSP Global. “We’re excited by these new investments in the program because they are critical to fulfilling that commitment.”

Additional investments and business-driving initiatives will be announced through the end of 2019, with more to debut at ‘SHiFT19,’ the annual Premier Program meeting in late October.

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