Eyeglass World Agrees to Revise Practices
and Pay Penalties Totaling $500,000
Stephen Barrett, M.D.
Florida Attorney General Bob Butterworth has announced that Eyeglass World, which offers one-stop shopping for eye exams and corrective lenses will pay $500,000 and adopt an arms-length relationship with its affiliated optometrists to settle allegations of unlawful marketing practices . The agreement was prepared by Assistant Attorney General Stephen Iglesias.
Eyeglass World operates a chain of retail outlets in states where customers can have their eyes examined by an allegedly independent, licensed optometrist and purchase the company's corrective lenses. The optometrists lease space in the company's outlets. According to Butterworth's complaint:
Optometrists leasing space in Eyeglass World outlets were pressured by the company to issue unnecessary prescriptions for glasses and contact lenses and limit time spent with each patient. The company's goal was to maximize the number of patients seen and ensure that every person who had an eye exam bought corrective lenses.
State law prohibits a corporation that leases office space to an optometrist from interfering with their medical practice. In addition to violating that statute, Eyeglass World also:
Engaged in the sale of outdated, used and non-sterile contact lenses. Sold diagnostic lenses and solution starter kits provided free of charge by the manufacturer.
Misrepresented itself as an approved provider for a certain health insurance plan.
Intentionally misquoted prices over the telephone, engaged in bait and switch advertising and failed to post its no-refund policy at the point of sale.
Failed to have a licensed optician on premises at all times and failed to have proper optical equipment or perform tests required by the FDA to determine product safety.
While admitting no wrongdoing, Eyeglass World has agreed to:
Provide for consumer restitution and pay the costs of the state's investigation. A Revise its leases with optometrists to ensure that it does not exert improper influence over their medical practices.
Implement a corporate ethics program that will include live instruction and creation of a corporate ethics manual.
Eyeglass World's Web site states that the company operates 58 outlets in 22 states. Its affiliate company, the Laser Vision Institute, operates 31 outpatient laser vision correction centers in 18 states. These centers, most of which have the same address as an Eyeglass World store, are serviced by a total of 11 ophthalmologists (eye surgeons). The Institute's Web site states that it expects to have 40 centers operating by the end of 2001. Both chains are subsidiaries of Musa Holdings, Inc., of Lake Worth, Florida.
Butterworth B. Eyeglass World to pay $500,000, revise practices under agreement. Florida Attorney General news release, Feb 10, 2001.
Careers. Laser Institute Web site, accessed, Feb 12, 2001.