Contact lenses are a staple in the daily lives of more than 40 million Americans, which makes it crucial that consumers have easy access to them. That’s what’s at stake in a current debate before U.S. Federal Trade Commission, which is considering a simple and commonsense rule to require optometrists to sign an acknowledgement that they provide each patient with a copy of his or her prescription.
The proposed rule has received widespread support from progressives, free-market groups and consumer advocates. That it is in any way controversial, unfortunately, offers a good illustration of just how consumer-unfriendly the contact lens market has tended to be.
While the FTC’s proposal should be an easy lift, the American Optometric Association is fighting it tooth and nail. They claim the rule is unnecessary, that it would be costly to implement and that only a few patients have complained to the FTC about having trouble obtaining their prescriptions. Those surface objections notwithstanding, it’s not hard to see what actually motivates this pushback from the optometrists.