(L-R) Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-N.C.) joins AOA president Andrea Thau, OD, past AOA president David Cockrell, OD, and Johnson & Johnson Vision North American president Peter Menziuso at a White House meeting.

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Industry leaders visited Capitol Hill this week to deliver a message to Congress about eyecare, patient safety and the importance of “in-person vision care” provided by optometrists. The industry executives – led by American Optometric Association (AOA) president Andrea Thau, OD, and Johnson & Johnson Vision North America president, Peter Menziuso– also advocated for the need for “a federal crackdown on illegal contact lens sales,” according to an AOA statement.

Thau and Menziuso met with members of Congress to build “new support for AOA-backed patient health and safety priorities,” the statement added. Their meetings included such key House and Senate leaders as Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Reps. Bob Latta (R-Ohio) and Michael Burgess, MD, (R-Texas) on Capitol Hill, according to AOA’s announcement.

In addition to discussing the status of legislation to overhaul the current health care system, Thau and Menziuso urged officials to “oppose a harmful Federal agency proposal that would impose new paperwork burdens on doctors and patients while not addressing predatory practices of some online contact lens sellers,” which AOA said have “the potential to harm patients and increase health care costs.”

“Optometry was heard loud and clear today in Washington, D.C. The Capitol Hill meetings help ensure that optometry practices from coast to coast and our AOA are recognized as a nationwide force for patient health and vision,” Thau said. “At a time when elected officials are making important decisions about the direction of health care, our AOA and state associations are making sure that that our frontline and expanding role is understood and that our priorities, focused on protecting the doctor-patient relationship, are front and center.”

“Helping people safeguard their eyesight is our top priority at Johnson & Johnson Vision,” Menziuso said in a J&J statement about the Capitol Hill visit. J&J also used the opportunity to express its continuing support for one-year contact lens prescription expiration dates, non-substitution of prescribed contact lens brands, and comprehensive eye exams, the company said.

In addition, during the week of June 19th, thousands of AOA doctors are expected to have an opportunity to meet Senators and House members as part of the AOA on Capitol Hill advocacy event, AOA said. The event coincides with in AOA’s Optometry’s Meeting in Washington.