A company and its owner selling contact lenses directly to consumers via three Web sites are settling Federal Trade Commission (“Commission” or “FTC”) charges they violated federal law by failing to verify consumers' prescriptions as required by the Commission's Contact Lens Rule. They will pay $40,000 in civil penalties and will be prohibited from violating the Rule in the future.
This settlement is the FTC's first enforcement action under the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act of 2003 and the Contact Lens Rule, which the Commission issued in 2004.
The laws require that prescribers provide consumers with a copy of their prescription after they are fitted for contact lenses and that sellers either obtain a copy of the prescription or directly verify it with the prescriber before selling contact lenses to consumers. The laws are designed to make the market for contact lenses more competitive by allowing consumers to obtain their prescriptions and comparison shop for lenses. They also are designed to protect consumers' ocular health by prohibiting the sale of contact lenses without a valid prescription.
The defendants, Walsh Optical, Inc., and its owner Kevin Walsh, run three Web sites that sell contact lenses: www.lensworld.com, www.contactmania.com, and www.contactlensworld.com. The FTC's complaint alleged that the defendants often sold contact lenses to consumers without first obtaining their prescription or verifying the prescription with the prescriber. In addition to the $40,000 civil penalty, the settlement also contains provisions that allow the FTC to monitor compliance.