Legal Memorandum: Dispensing Contact Lenses by Mail in NJ

Issue: Under the laws of New Jersey, may a contact lens manufacturer dispense contact lenses by mail either directly to the consumer or to the consumer’s physician?

Area of Law: Administrative Law, Administrative Law & Regulation (Federal and State)
Keywords: Contact lens manufacturer; Contact lens dispensing services by mail; License requirements
Jurisdiction: New Jersey
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: N.J. Stat. §§ 52:17B-41.26(a), .27, §§ 52:17B-41.5, .28, .29; § 52:17B-41.6, § 52:17B-41.9, § 52:17B-41.8, § 52:17B-41.17, § 52:17B-41.5; N.J. Admin. Code tit. 13, § 33-4.1; N.J. Stat. Ann. § 52:17B-41.29
Date: 02/01/2001

           Under New Jersey law, any "ophthalmic dispenser" licensed in the state may engage in contact lens dispensing, meaning the sale or delivery of contact lenses to the patient based upon a physician’s or optometrist’s prescription.  N.J. Stat. §§ 52:17B-41.26(a), .27 (Supp. 1993).*FN1  A written prescription,*FN2 or specifications of record, is always required.  Id. §§ 52:17B-41.5, .28, .29. 

In order to be licensed and receive a certificate, an ophthalmic dispenser must pass an examination.  Id. § 52:17B-41.6.  Certain educational and work experience requirements also apply.  Id. § 52:17B-41.9.  The certificate must be conspicuously displayed in the business establishment.  Id. § 52:17B-41.8.  A New Jersey ophthalmic dispenser’s right to advertise is subject to certain restrictions.  See id. § 52:17B-41.17. 

Accordingly, dispensing contact lenses through ophthalmic dispensers in New Jersey may be permissible.  Also, the above requirements do not in any way restrict or limit the practices of physicians and optometrists, id. § 52:17B-41.5, who therefore possibly may also serve as conduits for mail-order dispensing of contact lenses.


     [1] This statute became effective in April 1992 and apparently supersedes N.J. Admin. Code tit. 13, § 33-4.1 (March 1992), which required that contact lenses be dispensed only to the patient’s doctor or optometrist.

     [2] A copy of the prescription must be provided by the original contact lens prescriber or dispenser upon the patient’s request.  N.J. Stat. Ann. § 52:17B-41.29 (Supp. 1993).


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