Article Date: 2/1/2001

0201013

editor's perspective

Illegal Lens Sales

BY JOSEPH T. BARR, OD, MS, FAAO, EDITOR, AND MICHAEL G. HARRIS, OD, JD, MS
February 2001

Last month our annual contact lens report and an article, "Mail Order Contact Lenses: A Telephone Survey," addressed this important issue. Similar issues apply to Internet lens sales. In most states contact lenses cannot be provided without a signed copy of the prescription from an optometrist or ophthalmologist. Some states do not allow prescription substitutions, and some require that eyecare questions be referred back to the prescribing practitioner.

Filling an invalid lens prescription implies that the eye care provider is unnecessary and diminishes the role of a contact lens as a medical device. The probability of contact lens-related problems increases when a patient fails to see an eyecare provider on a regular basis or wears improperly prescribed contact lenses. Other possible problems are illustrated in the September 7, 1999, Prospectus filed pursuant to rule 424 of the Securities Exchange Commission Filing Form 424B1 for one major contact lens mail order company (1 800 Contacts). It states under "Risk Factors" that: "A significant portion of our sales do not comply with applicable regulations governing the delivery and sale of contact lenses." The company also admits these risks:

Last month's article indicates that at least one mail order contact lens company may not comply with (California) state law regarding contact lens prescriptions and advice. What action should be taken? We will address this next month.


Contact Lens Spectrum, Issue: February 2001