Enacted in 2004, the Contact Lens Rule aided consumers’ ability to comparison shop for contact lenses. Under the Rule, prescribers are required to give patients a copy of their contact lens prescription, whether or not patients request it and to verify or provide prescriptions to third-party sellers. The Rule also requires that contact lens vendors sell contact lenses only with a valid prescription the seller has received from either the patient or prescriber or has verified with the prescriber. Changes to the rule become effective Oct. 16, 2020 and have implications for both prescribers and sellers. The full 51 page document is available on the Federal Register website, but here’s a summary for those who want to cut to the chase.

Prescribers are required to confirm that patients received their prescriptions. They can do this in one of four ways. They can have the patient: Sign a separate confirmation statement; sign a copy of the prescription with a confirmation statement the prescriber will retain; sign a receipt for the examination with a confirmation statement the prescriber will retain; or retain evidence that the patient received a digital copy of the prescription. Prescribers must retain these confirmation records for three years. The Final Rule also requires prescribers to provide patients or their designated agents with an additional copy of their prescriptions on request within 40 business hours.

The amendments affect contact lens sellers as well. Sellers who use automated telephone messages for verification must: Record the entire call and keep the complete recording; begin the call by identifying it as a prescription verification request made in accordance with the Contact Lens Rule; deliver the verification message in a slow and deliberate manner and at a volume that the prescriber can understand; and make the message repeatable for the prescriber. Sellers cannot request verification for a brand or manufacturer other than what is prescribed. There is an exception, however, for private label lenses. Private label and brand name lenses can be substituted for each other when they are identical lenses made by the same manufacturer.

That’s it in a nutshell. The amendments give us another step for recordkeeping but provide important documentation that we have treated our patients and outside contact lens sellers fairly.

If any of your older patients wear contact lenses, chances are they have done so for a decade or more. Learn about some of the age-related eye health changes that can affect contact lens wear with our CE, “The Mature Contact Lens Patient” at 2020mag.com.

Linda Conlin
Pro to Pro Managing Editor
[email protected]