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Contact Lens Rule updates: What they mean for you

Do you wear contacts? If so, read on. You have the right to get your contact lens prescription from your eye care prescriber — whether you ask for it or not — at no extra charge. The Contact Lens Rule, which the FTC enforces, says so. That lets you take your prescription wherever you want — online or to the mall — to shop around and look for the best deal.

Periodically, the FTC likes to take a look at its rules to make sure they are up to date, effective, and not overly burdensome. As part of our review of the Contact Lens Rule, we wanted to look at ways to make sure prescribers are giving patients a copy of the contact lens prescription once the contact lens fitting is completed. We recently updated the Rule to help make that happen. The Rule changes go into effect 60 days after publication of the Federal Register notice.

Now, after giving you a copy of your prescription, prescribers have to ask you to sign a confirmation and keep it for at least three years. Prescribers can confirm that you got your prescription in one of four ways:

  • ask you to sign a separate confirmation statement
  • ask you to sign a copy of the prescription that has a confirmation statement, which the prescriber will keep
  • ask you to sign a copy of the sales receipt for the examination that has a confirmation statement, which the prescriber will keep, or
  • instead of a paper copy, the prescriber may give you a digital copy of the prescription, if you consent to the digital delivery and the method of digital delivery. The prescription must be accessible, downloadable, and printable. If the prescriber gives you your prescription electronically, she doesn’t have to ask you to sign a confirmation statement. She will, though, have to ask you to sign a consent form to get your prescription electronically. This is to make sure you know what you’re getting, and have the ability to use it.

If you suspect an eye care prescriber is violating the Contact Lens Rule, report it to us at ftc.gov/complaint. For a more in-depth look at your prescription rights for contacts — and eyeglasses — take a look at Understanding Your Prescription Rights for Glasses and Contact Lenses. It includes a list of what you should see in your prescription.

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