Healio - A bipartisan group of U.S. House of Representatives members wrote to the CDC asking about the agency’s efforts to encourage early detection and prevention of childhood myopia.
Bipartisan House Coalition Petitions Centers for Disease Control for Update on Childhood Myopia Prevention
Increased screentime amid the pandemic only accelerated childhood myopia challenges
(WASHINGTON) – A bipartisan group of lawmakers, led by Congresswoman Angie Craig (D-MN) and Congressman John Joyce, M.D. (R-PA) and signed by 26 other Members of the U.S. House of Representatives, today sent a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requesting an agency update on efforts to encourage early detection and prevention of childhood myopia. The COVID-19 pandemic has only amplified this progressive health condition as more children experienced increased time indoors and engaging in near work, oftentimes learning through a tablet or laptop.
The Members of Congress write in the letter, “Eye and vision problems in children are a significant global public health concern. Myopia, one of the most common eye health conditions, is a chronic progressive disease that poses the biggest threat to global eye health this century. Children aged 12 and younger who become myopic have a high risk of becoming highly myopic with a commensurate increased risk of developing visually threatening complications later in life.”
According to a recently published study by researchers at Emory University and the University of Michigan, more time indoors due to the COVID-19 pandemic appeared to be associated with an increase in vision problems. Specifically, the study observed upwards of a threefold increase in childhood myopia in 2020 compared to the previous five years.
“The Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety applauds Congresswoman Angie Craig and Congressman John Joyce, M.D., along with their House colleagues, for seeking answers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the efforts the agency is deploying to combat the rise in childhood myopia,” said Dr. David Cockrell, O.D., Chairman of the Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety. “We are hopeful the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will outline robust, proactive measures to tackle this public health issue, which, if left untreated, will have long-term impacts on our children’s development, opportunity, and overall wellbeing.”
There is no existing cure for myopia. Early diagnosis and preventative treatment are crucial to mitigate adverse health outcomes in children. Minimizing near-work engagement through devices such as a tablet or laptop, while increasing time outdoors is critical in reducing the risk of childhood myopia.
“As we continue to face the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, a growing number of Minnesotan physicians and parents are sounding the alarm on how children’s vision is being negatively impacted by the onset of childhood myopia,” said U.S. Representative Angie Craig (D-MN). “Together with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, I am hopeful we can raise awareness among parents, physicians and other stakeholders to increase early detection of myopia, ensuring our children are able to excel socially, in the classroom and through their developmental years.”
Eye care professionals recommend annual eye examinations for all patients, including children. If a child has not had a vision screening since the onset of the pandemic, optometrists recommend parents schedule a comprehensive eye examination.
“As a physician, I know firsthand how, if left untreated, medical conditions like myopia, often called nearsightedness, if not diagnosed, can affect a child’s development. That’s why I am pleased to work alongside Congresswoman Angie Craig and my House colleagues to ensure that physicians are well-equipped, and parents are well-informed on how to detect and treat childhood myopia,” said U.S. Representative John Joyce, M.D. (R-PA).
For more information, please visit www.PatientSafetyToday.com.
Healio - The Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission announced that the government will collect $1.5 million in civil penalties and $2 million in consumer redress from the online contact lens company, Vision Path Inc., doing business as Hubble Contacts.
Online Contact Lens Retailer Fined Millions for Dangerous Business Practices, Demonstrating Need for Congressional Action
(WASHINGTON) — The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), along with the United States Department of Justice, announced it is seeking to fine online contact lens retailer Hubble $3.5 million for business practices that were both deceptive and dangerous to patients. The fine – $1.5 million in civil penalties and $2 million in redress – would be imposed because Hubble failed to properly verify patients’ contact lens prescriptions with their eye doctor, as required by law, among other things. The FTC reports it is the largest fine ever imposed for breaking the Contact Lens Rule (CLR).
According to the Department of Justice’s court filing, “Hubble did not ensure that consumers received lenses with the correct prescription, and did not actively confer with prescribers for the vast majority of customer orders. Instead, Hubble sent flawed and often incomprehensible verification messages to prescribers, and then, when the prescribers failed to respond with a denial within eight business hours, treated the order as passively verified and sent consumers lenses they had never been fitted for. Regardless of the quality of Hubble’s verification requests, Hubble promised more than passive verification—it promised that it would ensure that customers would receive the right prescription—and this it made no effort to do.”
“The findings by the Federal Trade Commission on Hubble’s dangerous and reckless business practices are deeply troubling, especially as they severely compromised patient health and vision safety for years,” said Dr. David Cockrell, OD, Chairman of the Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety. “We appreciate the Federal Trade Commission’s thorough investigation into this clear violation of the Contact Lens Rule, but this case makes it clear that immediate congressional action is needed in order fix the broken passive verification process, which allowed for Hubble to continue sending inaccurate and unverified prescriptions to patients for years.”
A bipartisan bill introduced in both the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate could have prevented these types of business practices that jeopardized patients’ health and safety. The Contact Lens Prescription Verification Modernization Act (H.R. 3353/ S.1784) modernizes the contact lens prescription verification process and makes it simpler and safer for millions of contact lens wearers.
“Flagrant abuse of the Contact Lens Rule’s passive verification process makes it clear that Congress must act quickly in taking up and passing the Contact Lens Prescription Verification Modernization Act,” said U.S. Representative Bobby Rush (D-IL01), who introduced the legislation (H.R. 3353) in the House of Representatives. “This bill would give patients a much-needed safeguard by allowing eye doctors to clearly verify the accuracy of prescriptions and providing online retailers with the means to more safely and efficiently serve their customers.”
The bill increases patient safety by prohibiting prescription verification made via robocall and establishes clear verification processes. It requires that online sellers like Hubble use direct communication – e-mail, live phone call, or fax – to confirm prescriptions. This verification process would ensure patients are receiving their prescribed lenses rather than a substitution not approved by an eye care provider that could put their eye health and vision at risk. The bill also requires online sellers to develop HIPAA-compliant methods for patients to electronically transmit contact lens prescriptions.
Improper lens usage, which can result from the substitution of lenses not as prescribed by the patient’s doctor or using an outdated prescription, can lead to serious health complications, including infections and other sight-threatening conditions, such as microbial keratitis, corneal edema, ulcers, and neovascularization.
More than 45 million Americans rely on contact lenses – U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Class II and Class III regulated medical devices – for safe and effective vision correction. Contact lenses are more complex than they appear, having more than 10 different structural and chemical features that represent over 160 different brands to meet the needs of each individual patient. There are no generic contact lenses.
For more information, please visit www.PatientSafetyToday.com.
(WASHINGTON) – The Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety (HCAPS) today applauded the House and Senate Committee on Appropriations’ Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) Subcommittees for calling for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to enforce the Contact Lens Rule’s prescription verification process.
The Senate FSGG report states:
Contact Lenses. – The Committee supports maintaining long-standing regulation and oversight of the contact lens marketplace but remains concerned about patient safety gaps not addressed in the recently finalized Contact Lens Rule. The Committee encourages the Commission to enforce the Rule’s verification requirements, particularly related to new online market entrants.
The House FSGG report states:
Contact Lenses. – The Committee supports maintaining long-standing regulation and oversight of the contact lens marketplace in the recently finalized Contact Lens Rule. The Committee supports the Commission’s efforts to enforce the Rule’s verification requirements, particularly related to new online market entrants.
The Senate FSGG report can be read here and the House FSGG report can be read here.
The Committees’ reports come as the Contact Lens Verification Modernization Act, which has been introduced in both the House and Senate, continues to build bipartisan momentum. The Senate bill can be viewed here and the House bill can be viewed here.
Dr. David Cockrell, OD, Chairman of HCAPS stated, “The Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety (HCAPS) appreciates the attention from both the House and Senate regarding dangers posed to a patient’s eye health and safety through the failure of contact lens retailers to properly verify a contact lens prescription. The unfortunate reality is that the use of improper contact lenses or of contact lenses not prescribed by a doctor can lead to devastating, vision-threatening health events. These adverse vision health outcomes are completely preventable with a verification process that enables a doctor to easily correct errors or inaccuracies in the patient’s prescription. As the House and Senate continue calling on the Federal Trade Commission to enforce the prescription verification process, HCAPS and our bipartisan patient safety champions will continue working to modernize and enhance the verification process through the passage of the Contact Lens Prescription Modernization Act.”
(Alexandria, Va.) – The Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety (APS) this week announced EssilorLuxottica, a global leader in design and distribution of ophthalmic lenses as its newest member. EssilorLuxottica’s innovation in lens technology has led to the creation of brands that regularly rank among the highest in patient satisfaction, with each solution created by the company to correct vision, protect the patients’ eyes or improve comfort and performance in order to improve patient lives.
“APS members are pleased to welcome EssilorLuxottica, which represents an important addition to our organization’s efforts to advocate for policies that protect patients,” said Dr. David Cockrell, chairman of the Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety. “EssilorLuxottica’s diversified operation and integration is an important perspective into what policies and procedures can improve vision care outcomes while protecting and promoting the doctor-patient relationship.”
EssilorLuxottica lens technologies include brands such as Crizal, Oakley, Kodak, Essilor, Transitions and Ray-Ban. Their eyewear brands are among some of the most recognized brands globally, including Burberry, Chanel, Coach, Dolce & Gabbana, Emporio Armani, Polo Ralph Lauren, Prada, Tiffany & Co., Tory Burch, Valentino and Versace. With a robust distribution network, like through Clearly, Eyebuy Direct, Lens Crafters, Pearle Vision, Sunglasses Hut, Vision Direct and Target Optical, EssilorLuxottica provides patients exceptional access to high-quality vision products to protect and enhance their vision.
EssilorLuxottica joins APS as a Leadership level member effective immediately.
January 15, 2021
Optometry Times - Chief Optometric Editor Ben Casella, OD, FAAO, talks with Deanna Alexander, OD, FAAO, chair of the Alliance for Patient Safety, about recent changes from the FTC on contact lenses.
(WASHINGTON) – The Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety (APS) today announced David A. Cockrell, O.D. as its new chairman. Dr. Cockrell, a practicing optometrist in Stillwater, Okla., succeeds Deanna Alexander, O.D., whose term as chairwoman concluded at the end of 2020. A photo of Dr. Cockrell can be found here.
“Under the leadership of inaugural chairwoman Deanna Alexander, O.D., the Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety quickly established itself as the leader in advocating for policy that safeguards the millions of contact lens-wearing patients across the United States,” said David Cockrell, O.D. “I’m eager to begin working on priority initiatives that strengthen the doctor-patient relationship, enhance contact lens prescription verification methods to protect patients and modernize the means by which patients are informed of their rights.”
Dr. Cockrell has a long history of advocating for patient safety. He is a past president of the American Optometric Association, American Board of Optometry, Oklahoma State Board of Optometric Examiners and the Oklahoma Association of Optometric Physicians.
He has been recognized for a lifetime of service and advocacy on behalf of patients by being inducted into the American Optometric Association National Hall of Fame, receiving the Oklahoma Association of Optometric Physicians Distinguished Service Award and being named the Optometrist of the Year by the Oklahoma Association of Optometric Physicians.
Dr. David A. Cockrell and his wife, Cherry Cockrell, O.D., own and operate Cockrell Eyecare Center in Stillwater, Okla., where he is active in the Stillwater Rotary Club, Stillwater Chamber of Commerce, the Stillwater Public Education Foundation and the Stillwater Medical Foundation.
Dr. David Cockrell completed his Bachelor’s degree in Zoology at Oklahoma State University and received his Doctor of Optometry degree from Southern College of Optometry.
January 04, 2021
Healio - The House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations requested that the Federal Trade Commission delay the effective date for the Contact Lens Rule until March 31, 2021.
Patient Safety Advocates Applauds Congressional Directive to Delay Implementation of the FTC Contact Lens Rule
(WASHINGTON) – The Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety (APS) today applauded Congress for acting to delay the implementation, effective date and enforcement of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) updated Contact Lens Rule (Rule) until March 31, 2021. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 – the recently passed omnibus appropriations bill for fiscal year 2021 – allowed the directive included in the House Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) report to stand as the operative language directing the FTC’s treatment of the Rule.
The FSGG report, which can be read here, states:
Contact Lenses.—The Committee is disappointed that the FTC’s final amendments to the Contact Lens Rule do not sufficiently address the patient safety concerns the Committee has repeatedly outlined in report language for the past four years. The rule fails to sufficiently modernize the prescription verification process by eliminating the use of robocalls and imposes new burdensome paperwork requirements on providers and patients. To allow providers sufficient time to implement the necessary changes and to prevent additional interruptions in service due to the coronavirus, the Committee directs the FTC to delay the effective date for the amendments, and to suspend any implementation or enforcement of those amendments, until March 31, 2021.
Dr. Deanna Alexander, OD, Chairwoman of APS stated, “Patient safety advocates from across the country applaud Congress for acting to protect patients by delaying the effective date of the Contact Lens Rule. While we are appreciative of Congress’ work, we resolve to continue fighting for patient safety next year when Congress returns. Along with our supporters in both the House and Senate, the Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety will tirelessly advocate for policy that prevents harmful inaccurate contact lens prescriptions from being shipped to patients and onerous regulations being forced upon local doctors.”
Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers have gone on the record calling for changes to how contact lens prescriptions are verified and how patients are notified of their prescription rights. APS has consistently advocated for these important measures to keep patients safe, including through advocacy with the FTC and Congress. Past actions from Members of Congress include:
June 23, 2020: FTC announces final amendments to the Contact Lens Rule
June 30, 2020: Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) and Rep. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX) issue a statement calling for the passage of their Contact Lens Prescription Verification Modernization Act (H.R. 3975) as a legislative remedy to a portion of the FTC’s Rule.
July 15, 2020: The House Committee on Appropriations Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) funding bill includes report language directing the FTC to delay the effective and enforcement dates of the Rule
August 3, 2020: Ninety-four Members of the U.S. House of Representatives write to chamber leadership requesting action against the Rule in a COVID package or other legislation likely to become law soon
September 17, 2020: The Contact Lens Rule Modernization Act is introduced to modernize the contact lens prescription verification process and eliminate the burdensome signed acknowledgement form requirement.
November 10, 2020: The Senate Committee on Appropriations Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) funding bill includes report language urging the FTC to delay the effective date of final amendments to the Contact Lens Rule.Read more