AOA president Ron Benner, OD, vice president Dr. Steven T. Reed and secretary-treasurer Jacquie Bowen, OD, attended the FTC Eyeglass Rule Workshop with participants Jeff Michaels, OD, FAAO, Stephen Montaquila, OD, Mahsa Katherine Masoudi, OD, and MyEyeDr.'s chief medical officer Artis Beatty.

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) hosted a public workshop on May 18 to examine proposed changes to its Ophthalmic Practice Rules, also known as the Eyeglass Rule. The workshop, titled A Clear Look at the Eyeglass Rule, was held in conjunction with the Commission’s regulatory review of the Eyeglass Rule. A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NRPM) was issued in January 2023 announcing proposed changes to the Rule. The Eyeglass Rule, in place since 1978, is designed to facilitate consumer choice and promote competition in the eyeglass market by requiring ophthalmologists and optometrists to provide patients with a copy of their prescription immediately after the completion of an eye exam.

The four-hour workshop featured three separate panel discussions which focused on:

●  The Rule’s prescription release requirement, including the ongoing barriers consumers are facing and the roadblocks to effective compliance.

●  The proposed confirmation requirement and how a similar requirement in the Contact Lens Rule has been working in practice since it came into effect in 2020.

●  Other proposed changes to the Eyeglass Rule, including changes permitting a digital prescription release in certain circumstances, clarifying that proof of insurance coverage counts as payment, and changing the term “eye examination” to “refractive eye examination” throughout the rule.

Opening remarks were delivered by Sam Levine, director, bureau of consumer protection, FTC, who oversees the commission's attorneys, investigators, and administrative personnel working to protect consumers from unfair and deceptive practices in the marketplace.

In his opening remarks, Levine said, “As many of you probably know, the Eyeglass Rule has been in place since 1978, and since that time, the goal of the FTC in this space has been to promote competition in the eyeglass marketplace and to empower consumers to comparison shop for glasses by making sure they have a copy of their prescription in hand after their eye exam.

“We're holding this workshop because we have been taking a close look at the Eyeglass Rule and how it's working in practice, and we've proposed a few updates to the rule with the goal of improving compliance and increasing clarity around the rule's requirements.”

Levine said, “I hope that today's discussion could help us have a better understanding of what consumers experience when visiting their eyecare professional and when they shop for glasses. And I hope we also come away with a clear understanding of what the prescriber's experience is in terms of complying with the Eyeglass Rule and how the proposed amendments could affect their practice.”

The opening panel discussion centered around the potential need for the Eyeglass Rule’s prescription release requirement in today’s marketplace. The FTC recently sent cease-and-desist letters, as reported by VMAIL, to prescribers of eyeglasses and contact lenses based on consumer complaints that patients were not automatically given, or denied, or charged for their prescriptions.

“I think that the automatic release has been around for so long that I think that it's just a part of what doctors do, and clearly we can find 30 people across the country who may not have complied or the letter response that I read back to the FTC from one of the people who received a letter was that they actually were complying and that it was a misunderstanding from the patient,” said panelist Jeffrey Michaels, OD, co-owner, Family Vision Care. “I think that the automatic compliance with this is so ingrained in optometrists and ophthalmologists that it's just a normal part of the day.”

The second panel featured a presentation by Stephan Montaquila, OD, president, West Bay Eye Associations, and examined the confirmation requirement and lessons learned from the Contact Lens Rule and how the confirmation of prescription release is working in practice. Dr. Montaquila participated at the suggestion of the American Optometric Association (AOA), according to the FTC.

Dr. Montaquila said, “I think that one thing that I must say that is really concerning to the optometry community is that the FTC has decided that it's not enough for a patient to be given the prescription electronically or in their portal. The FTC went a step further and said that doctors have to receive the verifiable affirmative consent to provide the prescription electronically. In the rulemaking, there were actually accusations that doctors would try to make their patient portals challenging to access so that patients would not be able to obtain their prescriptions.

“And while the FTC noted in the footnotes of the rule that there's no evidence to suggest this is actually happening in any practice across the country, the rule change went forward with this requirement for verifiable affirmative consent to provide their prescription electronically. So doctors are unable to seek this consent verbally and document that in their medical record. The FTC did also indicate that doctors could record their patient giving consent. And I'll just be frank, the idea of pulling out a recorder and asking a patient to consent on tape is really incredibly demeaning to the physician or their staff.”

The final panel focused on the other proposed changes to the Eyeglass Rule and the likely effects these changes would have on patients and prescribers.

In conjunction with this event, the FTC is seeking additional public comment. The public has until June 20, 2023 to submit comments and to provide input on the topics discussed at the event. Information on how to submit comments can be found on

The transcript from the workshop can be found here.