OLR Bill Analysis

sHB 6012

AN ACT CONCERNING CONSUMER PROTECTION IN EYE CARE.

SUMMARY

This bill prohibits optometrists and opthlamologists (providers) from:

1. using information obtained from a test using a “remote refractive device” (such as a smartphone app) as the sole basis for issuing an initial or renewal prescription for contact lenses and

2. issuing an initial or renewal prescription for contact lenses without having performed an in-person evaluation and eye examination of the patient.

The bill generally sets expiration dates for contact lens prescriptions at one year for initial prescriptions and one to two years for renewal prescriptions. Providers can issue prescriptions that expire in less than one year if earlier reexamination is necessary for specified medical reasons, as documented by the provider.

The bill applies to prescriptions for any contact lenses, whether used for corrective, therapeutic, or cosmetic purposes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2017

CONTACT LENS PRESCRIPTION EXPIRATION

Under the bill, providers generally must set the expiration date for contact lens prescriptions at (1) one year for initial prescriptions and (2) one to two years for renewal prescriptions. But providers may issue a prescription that expires in less than one year if earlier reexamination is necessary due to:

1. a reasonable probability of changes in the patient's vision of sufficient magnitude, based on the patient's history or current circumstances, or

2. the presence or probability of visual abnormalities related to ocular or systemic disease.

Under the bill, if the provider issues a prescription that will expire in less than one year, he or she must document the health-related reasons for the limitation in the patient's medical record.

The bill prohibits providers from issuing a prescription with an expiration date that is less than the period the provider recommends for the patient's reexamination.

DEFINITIONS

Among other definitions, the bill defines a “remote refractive device” as automated equipment or an application designed for use on a telephone, computer, or Internet-based device that can be used in person or remotely to test the refractive status of the eyes.

An “eye examination” is a physical assessment of a patient's ocular health and visual status that may include, but may not consist solely of, objective refractive data generated by an automated testing device, including a remote refractive device, to establish a medical diagnosis or for correcting vision disorders.

An “initial prescription” is a provider's handwritten or electronic contact lens prescription, as defined in federal law (15 U.S.C. 7610), that the provider issues the first time he or she fits a patient with a contact lens. Federal law specifies the information that must be included in the prescription.

BACKGROUND

Federal Law and Contact Lens Prescription Expiration

Under federal law and regulations, contact lens prescribers set the expiration dates for contact lens prescriptions subject to certain conditions. If there is no state law on this issue (as is currently the case in Connecticut), then the prescription must generally be valid for at least one year. States may specify the general expiration period, as long as it is at least one year.

Prescribers may set expiration dates of less than one year based on their medical judgment about the patient's eye health, as documented in the patient's medical record. Prescribers must (1) maintain that documentation for at least three years and (2) make it available for inspection by the Federal Trade Commission or its employees or representatives (15 U.S.C. 7604; 16 C.F.R. 315.6).

COMMITTEE ACTION

Public Health Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

23

Nay

3

(03/27/2017)