Two Internet marketers of non-corrective, cosmetic contact lenses have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they violated federal law by selling lenses without a prescription.
Under the Contact Lens Rule, which is administered by the FTC, sellers are required to verify that a consumer has a valid prescription for all contact lenses, including cosmetic lenses. Improper use of contact lenses, whether they are corrective or not, can cause corneal ulcers, corneal abrasions, vision impairment, and blindness.
Under the terms of the first settlement, See Right Vision, also doing business as Vision Contact Lenses, was ordered to pay a civil penalty of $27,000. The terms of the second settlement required Contact Lens Heaven to pay a civil penalty of $233,498, but because of the company’s inability to pay, all but $15,000 has been suspended.
The courts’ orders also prohibit the defendants from selling contact lenses without obtaining or verifying prescriptions directly from the prescribers, from failing to maintain records of prescriptions and verifications, and from violating the Contact Lens Rule. Both settlements also contain various record keeping provisions to assist the FTC in monitoring the defendants’ compliance.
The court orders also resolve the Commission’s charges against the following individual defendants: Ioanna Xenou-Karoumpa, based in Plantation, Florida (Contact Lens Heaven, Inc.; www.contactsland.com and www.contactlensheaven.com); and Chapin N. Wright II, based in Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts (See Right Vision and Vision Contact Lenses; www.colorfulcontactlenses.com, and www.visioncontactlenses.com).
In its continuing initiative to enforce the Contact Lens Rule, on October 31, 2008 FTC staff sent warning letters to eight sellers of non-corrective, cosmetic contact lenses who appeared to be providing contact lenses to consumers without valid prescriptions.
Under the Contact Lens Rule, sellers of both corrective and non-corrective cosmetic contact lenses must have a copy of a valid contact lens prescription or verify it with the prescriber before dispensing contact lenses to consumers. Failure to do so can result in civil penalties of up to $11,000 per violation.
The warning letters include guidance for sellers on their obligations under the Rule, directing them to “The Contact Lens Rule: A Guide for Prescribers and Sellers,” and “Complying with the Contact Lens Rule.” Consumers can learn more about cosmetic contact lenses in “Avoiding an Eyesore: What to Know Before You Buy Cosmetic Contacts,” and about their rights under federal law in “The Eyes Have It - Get Your Prescription.”
The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file both complaints and agreed-upon final orders was 4-0. These documents were entered in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida on December 3, 2008 (Contact Lens Heaven, Inc.), and the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts on October 31, 2008 (See Right Vision).
NOTE: These consent decrees are for settlement purposes only and do not constitute an admission by the defendants of a law violation. A consent decree is subject to court approval and has the force of law when signed by the judge. Copies of the complaints and proposed consent decrees are available from the FTC’s Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580.
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,500 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s Web site provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.
(Contact lens NR.wpd)
(FTC File No. 0823020 and FTC File No. 0823006)
(U.S. v. See Right Vision, No. 0:08-cv-61713-WJZ)
(U.S. v. Contact Lens Heaven, No. 1:08-cv-11793-GAO)