By Drew Armstrong –
One of the most exciting days of my young life was the day my parents finally considered me responsible enough to trade in my ugly, bulky glasses for contact lenses. I was a hockey goalie and struggled playing with my glasses always sliding out of position at the most critical times. Of course, learning to put in my contacts took a lot of trial and error, but I soon became accustomed to wearing them every day. Thanks to contact lenses, I have a whole new sense of freedom.
As an 11-year-old, I didn’t know it, but one of the reasons my parents had decided to let me make the jump to contact lenses was due to recent legislative changes in the contact lens industry. In 2003, the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act was enacted. This new law required doctors to give patients a written copy of their prescriptions so they could have their orders filled by any contact lens vendor. Now, instead of forcing patients to purchase contact lenses at outrageous costs from their prescribing doctors, consumers have the ability to shop around for better prices.
This new law allowed existing businesses like Walmart and Costco to expand into the contact lens industry and offer their customers lenses at a discounted rate. Many new jobs were created, and consumers saved thousands of dollars each month. The law also gave birth to a large number of online retailers, creating even more competition and lower prices.
Thanks to the efficiency that sprouted up as a result of the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act, over 40 million Americans can now afford to purchase contact lenses each month. However, there is now a new threat in the Senate that may take away Americans’ ability to choose where, when, and with whom we make our purchases. Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) has recently introduced the Contact Lens Consumer Health Act (CLCHA), which will ultimately limit where consumers can shop. It will force the contacts lens industry to go back to the pre-2003 policies that protected members of the American Optometrists Association rather than the average American.
There are no health benefits to passing Sen. Cassidy’s archaic law. Existing law already requires that retail and online sellers verify prescriptions with the prescribing doctor. The doctor can call the company if there is any issue with the order. If the doctor does not file a complaint within eight hours, the prescription is filled and either picked up or mailed to the consumer.