WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Federal Trade Commission late last week proposed changes to the 2004 Contact Lens Rule, and also provided details on how the public can comment on the agency’s proposal on or before Jan. 30, 2017.

The FTC proposal, if it becomes final, would require contact lens prescribers to obtain a patient’s signed acknowledgment that states: “My eyecare professional provided me with a copy of my contact lens prescription at the completion of my contact lens fitting, and; I understand I am free to purchase contact lenses from the seller of my choice.”

In addition, the FTC’s proposal would require prescribers to keep a copy of this signed acknowledgement on file (either hard copy or an electronic version) for at least three years.

Some observers, including the public policy research organization R Street Institute, view the FTC’s proposal as favorable to online retailers of contact lenses. However, companies and organizations on the other side of this issue are reviewing the FTC proposal and likely will file comments to the proposed new rule.

For example, in a statement posted on its website, Johnson & Johnson said it will work with “the American Optometric Association (AOA) and other partners in the Coalition for Patient Vision Care Safety to ensure that the FTC’s final decision is informed by the input of the eyecare professional community.” In addition to J&J and AOA, the Coalition’s members include AdvaMed – the Advanced Medical Technology Association, Alcon – a Novartis Company, the American Schools and Colleges of Optometry, Bausch+Lomb, the Contact Lens Institute, CooperVision and the National Optometric Association, among others.

Separately, the Coalition for Contact Lens Consumer Choice posted a statement on its website noting that R Street Institute is “encouraged by the FTC’s proposed update,” and added that the “decade-old rule was crafted to promote competition in the retail sale of contact lenses, imposing obligations on both eyecare providers and contact lens sellers. The update is designed to increase compliance with the automatic prescription-release requirement.”

The Coalition for Contact Lens Consumer Choice’s membership includes 1-800 Contacts, Costco Wholesale and Lens.com. The group also advised members that they should be wary of the upcoming “lame duck” session of Congress because of a possible threat to current regulations related to contact lens sales.

“Politicians on their way out of Congress have been known to fulfill as many self-serving promises as they can before they pack their bags and head home,” the Coalition said. “We must keep a watchful eye upon what they might do in the waning days of the Obama presidency.”

According to the FTC’s proposal, comments can be filed online or on paper. Online comments can be submitted here.