WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety (HCAPS) and the American Optometric Association (AOA) support Representatives Michael Burgess (R-TX) and Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) for the introduction of the Contact Lens Prescription Verification Modernization Act. If passed, this legislation, which was introduced on April 20, 2023, would prohibit sellers’ manipulation of the current contact lens prescription verification system and restore doctors’ oversight. The legislation, jointly backed by the AOA and HCAPS, is a priority issue for optometry’s advocates heading to Washington, D.C. in June, for the AOA’s single-largest federal advocacy event, AOA on Capitol Hill.

"I would like to thank representatives Burgess and Blunt Rochester for reintroducing this important legislation. This is a major step to protect contact lens patients from potentially harmful practices currently utilized in the contact lens marketplace," said David Cockrell OD, chairman of the Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety.

Millions of Americans can purchase their contact lenses online thanks to the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act (FCLCA). However, as a patient health safeguard, the law requires online sellers to verify the validity of contact lens prescriptions with the patient's doctor before fulfilling an order. While the FCLCA allows the use of telephone, fax, or e-mail for verifying prescriptions, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has interpreted the law to also allow for robocall verification.

Robocalls have proven to be ineffective in accurately verifying contact lens prescriptions, according to HCAPS. The information relayed in these robocalls is often received by a number not belonging to a doctor of optometry or an ophthalmologist or does not align with a patient's medical record—making it difficult, or even impossible, to correctly identify the patient and proper prescription within the current eight-hour passive verification window.

"Today, Americans know the benefits and expect the convenience of modern technology," said Congressman Burgess. "Patients deserve the choice to safely purchase contact lenses without the risk of receiving the incorrect prescription. Unfortunately, online contact lens sellers are still allowed to verify prescriptions using an automated voice message or robocall. This can result in incorrect prescriptions and sometimes permanent eye damage or blindness.
"The Contact Lens Prescription Verification Modernization Act prohibits robocalls for contact lens prescription verifications and extends HIPAA protections to correspondence between a patient and an online seller. This bill will maintain consumers' freedom while ensuring that physicians can safely verify their patients' prescriptions," Burgess said.

"I am proud to join with my colleagues in introducing the Contact Lens Prescription Verification Modernization Act. Since coming to Congress, one of my top priorities has been ensuring that consumers are protected from malicious and intentionally deceptive business practices," said Rep. Blunt Rochester.

The Contact Lens Prescription Verification Modernization Act will enhance patient safety by prohibiting prescription verification via robocall and instead, will establish a paper trail that requires online sellers use direct communication.