Attention Optical Alliance

Attention Optical Alliance Member:
Albany, N.Y.
June 2005

A-6394a/S-317a, sponsored by Assemblyman Canestrari and Senator Saland, passed the legislature in the closing hours of the legislative session this past Friday. This bill will soon be sent to the Governor’s Office for consideration.

Below is information from the bill memo. If you would like to see the full bill text, please visit the Assembly website at and use the Quick Bill search tool located right under Speaker Silver’s message.

Summary of Specific Provisions: The bill amends the Education Law to require contact lenses used for cosmetic purposes to be dispensed only upon a valid prescription from a physician, optometrist, or ophthalmic dispenser.

Justification: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued warnings regarding the serious risks of permanent eye injury presented by non-corrective, decorative lenses distributed without a prescription and without proper fitting by an eye care professional. In October 2002, the FDA issued an import alert instructing FDA and Customs officials to automatically detain all decorative contact lenses presented at U.S. ports of entry, and to seize decorative contact lenses currently on the market in violation of federal law.

The FDA has received reports of corneal ulcers associated with wearing decorative contact lenses in excess of recommended time periods. Corneal ulcers can progress rapidly, leading to internal ocular infection if left untreated. According to the FDA, uncontrolled infection can lead to corneal scarring and vision impairment. In extreme cases, this condition can result in blindness and eye loss. Other risks associated with the use of decorative, non-prescription contact lenses include conjunctivitis, corneal edema, and corneal abrasion. Unfortunately, decorative lenses have been found to be especially popular among teens. Despite seizure efforts and public awareness campaigns regarding the threat such lenses pose to the wearer’s health, the lenses continue to be found in flea markets and stores, as well as on the Internet.
This bill will reinforce the message by the FDA of the dangers of non-prescription cosmetic lenses by requiring them to be fitted by an appropriate eye care professional and only upon written prescription.

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