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Policy Issues

Buying Contact Lenses Online: A Critique of the Fogel and Zidile Optometry Journal Study

By Robert D. Atkinson
June 02, 2008

There has been perhaps no profession that has more aggressively sought to fend off e-commerce competition than optometry which has used a variety of means to limit the sales of contact lenses online. Their trade association, the American Optometric Association, has used all manner of efforts to limit online competitors. Their most recent attempt to discredit the practice of online sales of contact lenses and build support among legislators and regulators for restrictive legislation is their publication in their journal Optometry of a study that purports to find that contact lens patients are more at risk when buying lenses online than those who buy their lenses directly from an optometrist. There is only one problem: the study has serious methodological limitations and flaws that suggest that it would inappropriate to draw the conclusions from it that the industry is drawing. This ITIF report analyzes the study and finds that not only is the study fraught with flaws in much of the methodology, but many of the implications suggested by the authors are either over-reaching in their scope, fallacious in their reasoning, or silent in refuting equally plausible alternative explanations.

Related Links

Public Versus Private Restraints on the Online Distribution of Contact Lenses: A Distinction Without a Difference
July 10, 2006