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Citing Personal Freedom, Lawmaker Wants To Up Contact Lens Prescriptions To Two Years

Rep. Heather Carter, R-Cave Creek.
(Photo courtesy of the Arizona State Legislature)
Rep. Heather Carter, R-Cave Creek.

Calling it a matter of personal freedom, the head of the House Health Committee wants to allow Arizona contact lens wearers to wait two years between required eye exams.

Rep. Heather Carter, R-Cave Creek, said there's no medical reason for current laws which limit contact lens prescriptions to one year. Her legislation would allow a patient in consultation with an optometrist or ophthalmologist to decide whether to go up to two years.

But Annette Hanian, who is a full-time optometrist and heads the legislative committee of the Arizona Optometric Association, said there are good reasons for the current annual exam requirement.

"They have inherent to them things that can affect the corneal integrity, the surface of the eye, the ocular surface that patients aren't necessarily aware of. We need to be able to diagnose and intervene at an appropriate time so that they don't become a more serious complication," Hanian said.

Carter sniffed at that explanation, saying, "This is a commerce issue and not a health issue. If you look at the other states that allow an eye professional to write for two years, there is no research that shows that they have adverse reactions to having a statutory provision of writing for two years."

There's also a financial component: unlike doctors who write a prescription to have it filled elsewhere, optometrists and ophthalmologists can write the order and then turn around and sell the lenses to patients. But a longer period between office visits could mean more business for online discount contact lens retailers who are in favor of Carter's bill.