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Online retailers removed posts from the website of a few contacts lens sellers because the sellers didn’t meet FCLCA (Fairness to Contact Lens Consumer Act) patient protection provisions, that needed to get a prescription from a doctor. Amazon no longer features vendors selling non-complying attractive contact lenses on its site, after the American Optometric Association (AOA) alerted Amazon to possible violations of federal law and also its own policy on the use of certain devices for healthcare purposes.
In February 2019, AOA sent Amazon a letter in which it highlighted a number of potential violations of its policies regarding the sale of medical devices. It mandated that sellers abide with all applicable laws (including those of the FDA) and local laws, such as the FCLCA.
Why Is It to Avoid?
- Some sites haven’t confirmed that their prescription is accurate, so you may accidentally wear a lens that isn’t correct or that doesn’t fit well.
- Some sellers of contact lenses have never been fully evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and this could make it unsafe to wear contact lenses.
- If the customer orders lenses online, the lenses may be damaged during transit, due to temperature differences and other factors.
- Some vendors are not able to supply customers with replacement lenses.
- Some sellers who deal with clients worldwide may use fake products to distribute their products to their customers.
Vendors of contact lens products may only sell lenses in accordance with a prescription for the patient which is (1) provided to the seller by the patient or by his/her doctor either in person or by fax, or (2) directly verified by communication. The AOA says in its letter that contact lenses sold on Amazon are sold completely without a prescription, which is in violation of FCLCA. The guidance that sellers provide related to these Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-related medical devices and questions that buyers may have about the FCLCA is extremely concerning.
AOA continues to write letters to vendors that detail outrageous and insensitive instructions that vendors give them. It is totally unacceptable to provide unqualified medical advice, and it is very harmful to patients. Proper physician oversight is required for medical devices that must be prescribed by a physician.
Amazon thanks AOA management for their diligence and reiterates its own policy on how to handle complaints regarding defective products and said it will take the proper action if defective products are indeed found. As a result, the illegal postings that AOA first discovered and investigated have been removed. AOA is monitoring the site to find out what is happening, and will also be reporting illegal retailers.
AOA does not impose laws, but it serves as a resource for people to find information that is useful and up-to-date about eye care and health care policies.
AOA Protection Advocacy
AOA is a leading advocate for consumer safety, health and the public, and takes down those who are compliant and gouges them severely over issues that could harm their business. This means regularly informing federal officials and Congress about the need for a tougher crackdown on illegal internet contact lenses sellers, in light of a number of notable and worrying examples.
AOA has also complained to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about 1-800 Contacts’ use of the word Express Exam in the name of its website for allowing customers to renew their prescriptions electronically. AOA also noted that using the term exam to mean a simple eye test may lead consumers to believe they had a full eye exam to check the health of those who are using it. Online testing of vision by 1-800 Contact, for example, now includes information that a consumer must acknowledge that it is not a full eye exam.
AOA’s 31-in-31 campaign this October alerted federal agents to a California-registered vendor who sold counterfeit contact lenses in violation of the FCLCA and the Contact Lens Rule. A plan to force Lawrence Duskin, the owner of the websites HollywoodColorContacts.com, WorldColorContacts.com and TopModelContacts.com, to pay a $60,000 fine and ban him from distributing contact lenses.
While advocacy for contact lenses by the American Optometric Association is on the rise, there are many things that can be done.
If contact lenses are sold at a price that is too high, or if they cause other problems, it is easier for the AOA to record these sales and help officials make decisions that will help keep Americans safe. If you know a store that is selling illegitimately-produced lenses, or if you find out if a patient has been injured by the contact lenses that were sold to them, here are some ways for helping:
- Report websites that sell illegal contact lenses.
- Report problems with contact lenses.
- Report defects in contact lenses with nice design.
- Reports sellers who are engaging in fraud or other dishonest business practices.
You can send your reports to [email protected].