FTC Sends 28 Warning Letters Regarding Agency’s Eyeglass Rule

FTC Sends 28 Warning Letters Regarding Agency’s Eyeglass Rule
Eyeglass prescribers must provide patients with prescriptions at the end of an exam; cannot charge a fee or require eyeglass purchase for prescription release

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Federal Trade Commission staff has sent 28 letters to eyeglass prescribers warning them of potential violations of the agency’s Ophthalmic Practice Rules, known as the Eyeglass Rule, which ensures consumers the right to comparison shop for prescription eyeglasses.

The Eyeglass Rule requires prescribers to provide patients with a copy of their eyeglass prescription immediately after an eye exam that includes a refraction, even if the patient does not request it. Under the Rule, prescribers also cannot require that patients buy eyeglasses as a condition of providing them with a copy of their prescription, place a liability waiver on the prescription, require patients to sign a waiver, or require patients to pay an additional fee in exchange for a copy of their prescription. Prescribers further cannot refuse to perform an eye exam unless the patient buys eyeglasses, contact lenses, or other ophthalmic goods from them.

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Some prescribers who provide contact lens fittings in addition to eye examinations were also warned of potential violations of the agency’s Contact Lens Rule, which requires prescribers to provide a copy of the contact lens prescription to the patient at the end of the contact lens fitting, even if the patient does not request it. The Contact Lens Rule also prohibits prescribers from requiring that patients buy contact lenses, pay additional fees, or sign a waiver or release, as a condition of releasing or verifying the prescription.

The letters warn the prescribers that violations of the Eyeglass Rule or the Contact Lens Rule may result in legal action, including civil penalties of up to $42,530 per violation. Along with the letters, staff also provided prescribers with links to its guidance piece, Complying with the Eyeglass Rule and, where appropriate, to The Contact Lens Rule:  A Guide for Prescribers and Sellers and Complying with the Contact Lens Rule. The FTC is not making the names of the providers receiving letters public at this time.

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The FTC has information to help consumers understand their rights under federal law. See: Prescription Glasses and Contact Lenses.

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