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Arrested were Norman Fields, 42, of the 1100 block of Loxford Terrace, Silver Spring, and Anthony C. Saks, 33, of the 7400 block of New Hampshire Avenue, Takoma Park, Md.
Moyer said Fields had fitted lenses and that Saks had prescribed and fitted lenses for a decoy working for police. Both men are charged with the same offense of illegally fitting contact lenses, however, Moyer said.
General Sessions Court Judge Edward A. Beard released both men on personal bond. Fields' case was continued until March 16 and Saks' until March 17.
Moyer said stringent Department eyesight regulations had ruled out the use of police officers as undercover agents in the two cases.
À spokesman for the Board said that hundreds of similar complaints have been filed in the past 2 years, but that complainants had never agreed to appear in court before.
No District law specifically bars opticians from prescribing and fitting contact lenses. The law does bar unlicensed persons from practicing optometry.
The prescribing and fitting of contact lenses were pronounced optometric activities in a 1946 opinion from the District Corporation Counsel.
The District and American Optometric Associations have since pushed to get this restriction written into the law. A spokesman said legislation is to be introduced later today in Congress. It is expected that Senator Alan Bible, Democrat, of Nevada, will introduce the bill in the Senate and Representative B. F. Sisk, Democrat, of California, in the House.
Police said that Fields had fitted the decoy at the Embassy Optical Co., 1361 Connecticut Avenue NW., and that Saks had prescribed and fitted lenses at the Imperial Optical Co., 1334 G Street NW.
(From the Wasıington Post, Feb. 17, 1906)
Bills WOULD TIGHTEN OPTOMETRY LAW HERE Legislation to tighten up Washington's 42-year-old optometry law and prevent misrepresentation of the profession will be introduced next week in both the House and Senate.
Representative B. F. Sisk, Democrat, of California, who has been working closely with the local office of the American Optometric Association for more than a month on a bill, said he will submit a measure Monday.
Senator Alan Bible, Democrat, of Nevada, chairman of the Senate District Committee, plans to introduce another proposal in that body, an aid reported.
Sisk noted that "high-powered advertisements and fanvy but expensive installment plans that conceal high rates of interest are being used to sell a health device which, when properly prescribed and fitted, can be highly beneficial to the
"But, on the other hand, it may be and often is highly dangerous."
The Congressman said the purpose of his bill is to bring standards of practice here "up to a level which exists in most of our States * * *.!
Basically, the bill would bar such practices as offering discounts or free eye examinations, displaying eyeglasses and other instruments so that they can be seen from streets or corridors and advertising with other gimmicks.
The proposal also would improve procedures for licensing optometrists and set strict standards outlawing corporate practice.
Sisk noted that physicians and dentists--and most optometrists--have won such standards across the country. “But unfortunately, this is not true in our Nation's Capital,” he said.
Dr. HoFF. On February 18, 1966, the Washington Daily News also published an editorial which said in part, and I quote:
There has been growing official concern here, shared by the Washington Daily News, that the District's optometry law does not adequately guard the public in the delicate area of contact-lens fitting. Evidence has been mounting in recent months that many lens buvers were not getting the kind of professional service and care that these lenses seem to require. It seems that the law needs to be clarified.
It should be set forth precisely what professional training should be required of lens fitters at all stages of the contact-lens process. Possible injury to the
eye is at issue. The penalty should be harsh enough to stay the hand of the unqualified.
There are flagrant abuses taking place every day in Washington. The files of the District court reflect the case of a woman who recovered a judgment against one of these quickie establishments for the loss of sight in one eye from contact lenses. The educational qualifications of the contact-lens fitters in that case are illustrative of the problem. I understand that one had a B.A. in music and the other had completed 1 year of dental school.
In another case a young man who was a participant in the Job Corps program was standing outside a jewelry store. A man lured him inside and sold him a pair of glasses for which he was charged $86. The boy was successful in getting a job at a chain grocery store, but he was not able to pay the $86 to the jewelry store. They tried to garnishee the young man's wages and the grocery store, which has a policy of dismissing employees whose wages are attached, fired him. A subsequent vision examination disclosed that the young man did not even need glasses.
I am sure that the complaint filed with the District of Columbia Board of Optometry Examiners is replete with similar stores of fraud and deceit. The Optometry Society for the District of Columbia will also be pleased to turn its complaint files over to the committee, if it so desires.
The problems involved with unethical practices are:
4. Consideration of profit motives above considerations of the patient's best interests.
Over-the-counter sale of readymade eyeglasses is a particularly pernicious practice which the proposed law would also outlaw. The use of these readymade eyeglasses may, by giving some temporary improvement in vision, mask the underlying causes of changes in vision, changes which might be symptomatic of eye conditions or bodily diseases which would be disclosed during an eye examination. We all read of the traffic toll, loss of lives, injuries on many of the highways of this city. Over 85 percent of the decisions of the motorists are the result of what he sees or does not see.
Our society has worked closely with the District of Columbia Motor Vehicle Department, in attempts to either bar from the highways motorists with serious visual defects, or to provide them with the necessary corrective eyewear.
Everyone who rides in a taxicab sooner or later, if he looks at the driver's identification card, has seen stamped on some of them the slogan “I must wear prescription glasses." This is beneficial. But let me point out that any taxidriver can go to any one of numerous stores which sell readymade eyewear and, for $1 or less, buy a pair of glasses which he selects, and neither the passenger in the cab nor a police officer who stops the driver can tell whether these glasses are prescribed or purchased over the counter. Practically the only way to prevent this is to prohibit the sale of corrective eyewear without a prescription by either an optometrist or a physician.
Because of the obvious abuses in the area of readymade glasses, the Federal Trade Commission adopted regulations to govern the
optical products industry. The FTC set forth rules relating to deception in general, false advertising, bait advertising, deceptive prices, and other matters. These regulations say this about these readymade glasses or glaze goods:
Rule No. 2. False advertising of nonprescription magnifying glasses: It is an unfair practice for any industry member to publish or cause to be published any advertisement or sales presentation relating to nonprescription magnifying spectacles sometimes referred to as readymade spectacles which represent directly or by implication that spectacles so offered will correct or are capable of correcting defects in vision of persons unless it is clearly and conspicuously disclosed in the advertisement or sales presentation that the correction of defects in vision by such spectacles is limited to persons approximately 40 years of age and older who do not have astigmatism or diseases of the eye, and who require only simple magnifying or reducing lenses, or to publish or cause to be published any advertisement or sales presentation which has a capacity and tendency or effect of deceiving purchasers or prospective purchasers in any other material respect.
The danger involved herein springs from the tendency on the part of many people to self-diagnose their problem. We feel that if a person insists on playing Russian roulette with his vision, he should at least realize the risks he is taking. The mere printing of a sign or ad "not for those folks under 40 or those with astigmatism or eye diseases" does very little to remedy the problem.
Commonsense tells us that few dime-store salesmen will require proof of age before selling a cheap pair of readymade glasses to a person. In fact, I purchased a pair of these glasses in a Washington store last week and I was not asked my age.
I don't understand how a person, regardless of age, would know whether he had astigmatism or disease of the eye. To determine the answers to those questions optometrists spend 6 years in college.
The specious argument that these glasses cannot harm one's vision or that poor people will be deprived of reading glasses is simply not true. In fact, even aside from the vision problem, some of these glasses represent safety hazards.
The price advertising of ophthalmic materials should be prohibited. There was a time here in the District when socalled dental parlors indulged in price advertising, but that has disappeared as a result of congressional action.
Medicine's disciplinary powers are much greater than ours because they can bar unethical practitioners from eye tests to hospitals, but our profession has no such power. It is necessary therefore to vest the Commissioners of the District of Columbia, acting through the Board of Examiners of Optometry, to enforce the practices which would be prohibited by the passage of H.R. 12937.
I have before me a full-page advertisement placed in the Washington newspaper a few weeks ago by one of our local department stores from which I would like to quote:
Eyesight is your most precious gift. Give your eyes the best of care. Find a big choice of becoming styles in our budget eye-frame bar; $5, $7.50, $10.
Let us show you how attractive glasses can be. We have a big selection *** try on as many as you like * * * decide for yourself.
Keep the natural beauty of your eyes with contact lenses. We specialize in contact lenses * * * and that takes know-how that only our long experience can provide. Fitting contact lenses is a science in itself, and our technicians are experts. You are invited to come in for a consultation *** there's no obligation, of course. Our price for contact lenses is $95.
Eyeframe of the month, men's new Gotham frames are light as a letter that takes a 5-cent stamp.
New lightweight frames, equally handsome with tweeds and dinner clothes with a new "uni-fit” bridge, hidden hinges, and frames that absorb extraordinary punishment. Black, brown, or grey. Modestly priced, and you may charge them, of course.
(The material referred to follows:)
When did you laut have your oyus examined?
THE HECHT CO. DOWNTOWN OPEN TONIGHT 'TIL 9 ... TOMORROW 9:30-6
Mr. HORTON. Could I interrupt to ask a question? Is it your opinion that the present bill eliminates this type of advertising?
Dr. Hoff. The new bill would eliminate this; yes, sir.
Mr. Horton. But I was concerned with whether or not you felt it would be effective the way it is established in here. But it is your opinion tbat it would be?
Dr. Hoff. Yes, sir.
Mr. Harsha. I understood the first gentleman to say that optometry has a code of ethics declaring it unethical to advertise.
Dr. HOFF. Yes, sir.
Mr. HARSHA. Is there any way through that code of ethics you could prohibit the advertiser?
Dr. HOFF. Only the members of our association will subscribe to that code of ethics. There are members who practice optometry who are not members. There are people who are not members of the association, and they do not subscribe to that code of ethics.
Mr. HARSHA. There is no way to
Mr. HARSHA. To take their license, to suspend their license for advertising?
Dr. Hoff. Not under our present law.
Dr. McCRARY. The membership in our association is strictly voluntary, not compulsory, and usually these fringe operators are outside of the association. The only regulatory power that we have over them is through the Board of Optometry which administers the statute.
Mr. HARSHA. And there is nothing in the statute that prohibits their advertising?
Dr. McCrary. Not as it presently stands.
Dr. HoFF. There are many more objectionable areas which I am sure members of the subcommittee have seen themselves. The question, Congressman, should ask itself it seems to me as it weighs its responsibilities to protect the health, welfare, and safety of the people of Washington, is: Can a person in need of vision care receive the caliber of care he deserves from these mercantile price-conscious establishments?
Dr. McCrary said this mercantile atmosphere might be all right when buying furniture, but it is not all right when applied to the field of vision care. I would like to point out that we have an optical center in one of our Seventh Street furniture stores, and I understand that the management of that store is presently unhappy with their optometry because he is not producing enough revenue for the store on the basis of the number of square feet his optical center occupies.
With respect to similar establishments, I had planned to exhibit some slides at this point, but in the interest of saving time I think we will pass over that. We have the slides available if the subcommittee would like to view them later.
Unfortunately, it is true that thousands of individuals experiencing visual problems will shop for help at the mercantile unethical estab