FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, November 20, 2003
Consumers Union, 202-462-6262
(Washington, D.C.) – A bill passed Wednesday by the U.S. House of Representatives that requires eye doctors to give patients their contact lens prescriptions is expected to encourage vigorous competition in the contact lens market and ultimately result in lower prices for consumers.
“No longer will consumers be forced to buy contact lenses only from their eye doctors, who have used the power to withhold their prescriptions to lock patients into higher-priced lenses,” said Ami Gadhia, policy analyst with Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports. “Contact lens wearers should have the same freedom-of-choice when it comes to buying their lenses as eyeglass wearers have enjoyed.”
By a vote of 406-12, the House passed “The Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act,” which requires ophthalmologists and optometrists to release contact lens prescriptions to patients. Based on results of the Contact Lens Prescription Act in Texas, which was enacted in 1997 and also requires eye doctors to release prescriptions to patients, the end result should be lower prices and better service for all consumers.
In order to protect patient health, H.R. 3140 also contains safeguards and provisions to ensure that an eye doctor can continue to monitor a patient’s eye health when medically necessary.
“Based on the overwhelming support in the House for this pro-consumer measure, we expect the Senate to follow suit and approve a measure that gives contact lens wearers the right to shop around for the best deal,” Gadhia said.