Website Agrees to Stop Selling Contact Lenses Without Prescriptions

Woman putting in her contact lensesThe owner of a website that sold cosmetic contact lenses to consumers without prescriptions reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission to stop the practice.

Da Young Kim and her Duluth, Ga.-based company Gothic Lens LLC, sold theatrical and Halloween-themed cosmetic contact lenses online. The website, Gothiclens.com, is now offline, but examples of its products can be seen here.

The FTC accused Kim and Gothic Lens, who also did business as Kim Lens Sales, of violating federal law by selling contact lenses without obtaining prescriptions from consumers. The defendants also broke the law by failing to verify prescriptions and keeping inadequate records.Under the Contact Lens Rule, which the FTC administers, sellers are required to confirm that customers posses a valid prescription for all contact lenses, including cosmetic ones. Improper use, whether or not the lenses are corrective, can cause corneal ulcers, corneal abrasions, visual impairment, and blindness.

The settlement marks FTC's sixth enforcement action since it issued the Contact Lens Rule in 2004.

The settlement order prohibits Kim and Gothic Lens 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.

Under the settlement, Kim and Gothic Lens were ordered to pay a civil fine of $50,000. Kim will be forced to sell her 2008 BMW in partial satisfaction of the penalty. The remainder of the fine will be suspended because of her inability to pay.

If it is determined Kim lied about her financial condition, the full $50,000 will be due immediately. The settlement also contains various record-keeping provisions to assist the FTC in monitoring Kim's compliance.

The FTC's guidance for sellers on their obligations under the Contact Lens Rule includes "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 ."

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