Anyone who knows me can tell you that I’m basically a shy person. I’ve been that way since childhood (though my shyness has diminished a little with age). So, even though my parents and teachers taught me that it’s important to speak up when something is wrong or could be better, I’ve always found that easier said than done.
That’s why I offer kudos – lots of it – to anyone who does speak up. For example, it was a small group of optometrists in 1967 who first spoke up about the capabilities of ODs, setting in motion the call for expanded scope-of-practice laws.
In recent weeks, a number of people and organizations have spoken up. Among them:
• The California Optometric Association, which has warned the public that self-administered “vision tests” conducted online raise significant safety concerns. The COA also sent a letter to the California attorney general stating that one company may be violating an FDA directive by marketing such a test. The American Optometric Association and Transitions Optical also have warned consumers that an online test is no substitute for an in-person comprehensive eye exam. (For more on this, see “Product Buzz,” page 6.)
• Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s Consumer Protection Division, which stopped 37 distributors and retailers from unlawful contact lens sales. “My office’s contact lens sweep is a reminder to Texans to safeguard their vision by using only contact lenses prescribed for them by a licensed practitioner,” Paxton said. “We will continue to take appropriate action against retailers and businesses that endanger consumers by selling unlawful lenses. We strongly urge anyone who has found retailers selling lenses without a prescription to contact our office.”
• Fifty-four members of Congress, who in a letter to Federal Trade Commission Chairman Joseph J. Simons, urged him to reconsider proposed changes to the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act. The changes, if enacted, would require eyecare practitioners to have patients sign a document that says they received a copy of their contact lens prescriptions and then keep those documents on file for at least three years. “After nearly two years of deliberation,” the members of Congress write, “the plan continues to threaten to impose an unnecessary and burdensome mandate on tens of thousands of small business healthcare practices while also failing to consider strategies aimed at improved enforcement of existing patient health and safety provisions of the FCLCA.”
• Hundreds of ECPs across the U.S., who went as part of the Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety and the AOA to Washington to meet with White House officials, members of Congress, Congressional staff and health regulators. They discussed such topics as the proposed FTC rule change, the need to reform the prescription verification process and the importance of quality eye and vision care for veterans.
How willing are you to speak up? For example, did you visit Capitol Hill with your colleagues? Have you contacted your representatives? Or, have you contacted your state association or the AOA? That, along with your care, may affect your patients’ eye health as well as the eye health of millions of other individuals.
In short: Don’t be like me. Speak up, and don’t be shy.
Jeffrey Eisenberg | Editor-In-Chief | JEisenberg@FVMG.com