“Disruptive innovation” is a phrase that seems to be used as commonly today as “There’s an app for that” was used a decade ago. In the editorial in the May 2017 issue of Contact Lens Spectrum (www.clspectrum.com/issues/2017/may-2017/editor-8217s-perspective ), we addressed the topic of disruptive innovation in general and pointed toward several recent and historical examples of such innovation. We also pointed toward specific observations in the contact lens market, particularly as they related to possible future trends in both prescribing and distribution channels associated with soft contact lenses.
At that time, we were witnessing “online prescribing” of contact lenses, a somewhat nascent term describing presumably licensed eyecare practitioners who were “virtually” providing access to prescriptions for contact lenses after conducting some rudimentary version of an online vision screening. We also pointed to numerous questions and potential issues that were looming in this unchartered space.
On March 7, 2018, the Federal Trade Commission met with representatives from the contact lens industry and from ophthalmic professions and organizations as well as with our patients to engage those relevant stakeholders in conversation. While this was an important step, key issues still need to be addressed. It is fair to say that many of the questions and issues remain today and have perhaps even expanded with growing concern and angst given the continued lack of response or oversight from regulatory agencies.
As I reflect on these issues and on our current state of affairs as it relates to contact lens prescribing and distribution, I am reminded of a commonly used quote that was modified by comedian George Carlin: “If you can’t beat them, arrange to have them beaten.”
It is important that we all get in front of this ever-emerging trend, if for nothing else than for the best interests and safety of our patients.