By Jack Inglewood –
2003 was a year of revolutionary change in the contact lens industry. Since the Republican-controlled Congress enacted the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumer Act, consumers have enjoyed the freedom to choose their own contact lens supplier and shop for the best prices available. This overhaul of the industry allowed a number of new online providers and retail stores, such as Walmart and Costco, to enter the contact lens industry. The influx of suppliers has allowed competition to flourish, making contact lenses more affordable and easily attainable for the average American. By 2014, the lower costs that came as a result of this free-market competition allowed more than 41 million people to purchase contact lenses within the newly-opened $4.5 billion market.
Unfortunately, this successful laissez-faire policy has come under threat by proposed legislation that would strip Americans of their right to decide where they can purchase lenses. The Contact Lens Consumer Health Protection Act, introduced by Senator Bill Cassidy (R-La.), would essentially empower eye doctors to artificially increase their market share by mandating where patients can shop for lenses.