With my son’s teenage years getting closer in sight, my wife and I face the same dilemma as many other parents: We want to guarantee his physical and emotional well-being without becoming helicopter parents. And, we realize that we probably won’t agree with every decision he’ll make. What it inevitably comes down to is that we have to switch our focus, albeit gradually, from making decisions on his behalf to teaching him to make responsible choices of his own.

Okay, I know this isn’t a parenting magazine. But here’s my point: We all hear the word “choice” constantly used in association with contact lens patients—namely where patients obtain their lenses. This question of choice led the Federal Trade Commission to adopt the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act, requiring optometrists to provide every patient with a copy of his or her contact lens prescription, in 2003, and now has the FTC pondering whether to require that ODs obtain and keep for at least three years a signed document from each contact lens patient stating that he or she did indeed receive a copy of the Rx.

Those in favor of this change will argue that it’s important to keep this choice in the hands of consumers. But, while they emphasize consumer choice, I wonder if they’re also considering the responsibilities that come with that choice. These include patient education, prescription verification, adherence to the recommended wear schedule and care regimen, and follow-up care.

As you’ll read in this month’s issue, advances in contact lenses can benefit patients with highly irregular corneas, presbyopes and even patients with disfiguring ocular disorders. But, as optometrist Christopher Lievens reminds us, noncompliance with the recommended wear schedule or care regimen can result in serious ocular complications.

Whether you prefer patients get their lenses from you or support their choice of going to an outside vendor, the responsibility rests with everyone—patients, legislators, third-party vendors and ODs.

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