On March 7, 2018, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) held a public meeting as part of its regulatory review of the Contact Lens Rule (effective Aug. 2, 2004) associated with the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act (passed by the U.S. Congress in 2003). You can find details of this public workshop in our News Spectrum on p. 3 of this issue.
The overarching theme of the philosophy of contact lenses as medical devices relative to the patient experience was very clear through the course of the proceedings. On one end of the spectrum are those who argue that contact lenses should be treated as other common commodities, advancing the position of deregulation and consumer choice. On the opposite end of the spectrum are those who have an understanding of the importance of eyecare practitioners in the success of contact lens-wearing patients—who understand and value the importance of the contact lens fitting and follow-up process.
Eyecare providers are entrusted by the public to promote eye health (and safety), and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is likewise entrusted by the public to regulate medical devices, also with respect to patient safety. While there are some benefits of consumer-driven healthcare, one of the most significant disadvantages is that it is directly associated with patients circumventing needed healthcare due to financial burdens, with a resulting inability to make truly informed healthcare decisions. In the end, this simply puts patients in harm’s way and is by no means a reason for anyone to try to save a buck.
As I said last month, one overarching issue that I think we all agree on is the importance of maintaining patient safety—that is something of which I hope we never lose sight!