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Eyeglass Rule Would See Adjustments Under New FTC Proposals

American Optometric Association promises a full response to possible changes to Ophthalmic Practice Rules.




The United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is proposing changes to its Ophthalmic Practice Rules, otherwise known as the Eyeglass Rule.

The Commission reports it reviewed more than 800 public comments on the matter before forming its proposal. Possible changes include:

  • Require prescribers to request that each patient sign an acknowledgement confirming they have received their eyeglass prescription, and to retain such confirmation for three years.
  • Allow prescribers, with a patient’s verifiable affirmative consent, to provide the patient with a digital copy of a prescription in lieu of a paper copy.
  • Clarify that a patient’s proof of insurance coverage will be deemed to be a payment for the purpose of determining when a prescription must be provided.
  • Change the term “eye examination” to “refractive eye examination” throughout the rule.

“(The Eyeglass Rule was) made to protect consumer choice by empowering them to decide where they fill their eyeglass prescriptions. Yet too many prescribers are failing to give patients their prescriptions automatically,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection in a press release. “To remedy that and enforce the law, we are proposing that prescribers now get a signed confirmation when they release prescriptions to their patients.”

The FTC conducted a preliminary regulatory analysis of its proposed changes. It projects minimally increased costs in relation to the confirmation retention requirement. However, “the overall burden of the rule on prescribers would remain relatively small.”

The American Optometric Association vowed to stay abreast of the possible changes and to continue to advocate for the needs of doctors and eyecare providers.

In a brief joint statement to members, AOA President Dr. Robert Layman, O.D. and AOA President-Elect Dr. Ronald Benner, O.D. wrote, in part, “We too often see — and have to work to defeat — proposals in Washington, D.C., to impose costly new burdens that threaten practices and quality care.”


Later in the statement they wrote, “We immediately see that the agency needs to hear more from our profession about our compliance with prescription release requirements.”

The FTC plans to publish the notice of its proposed changes in the Federal Register in January. The public then will have 60 days to offer comments for Commission consideration.



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