By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Wednesday, February 8, 2017, the Senate Health Committee voted nine to zero to give a favorable report to SB21, which bans that sale of certain over the counter eyeglass without a prescription. “For the purposes of this act, over-the-counter spectacles means nonprescription ready-to-war magnifying spectacles or glasses that contain spherical convex lenses, uniform in each meridian, which ae encased in eyeglass frames and intended to ameliorate the symptoms of presbyopia. The lenses in over-the-counter spectacles may not have a minus power and may not exceed plus three and one-half diptera.” The sale of over-the-counter eyeglasses that do not meet that definition would be illegal without a prescription.
The act may be enforced by the Board of Optometry, a district attorney, or the Attorney General.
Proponents argue that limiting the sale of non-prescription eyewear benefits the public health by avoiding making eye issues worse through amateur optometry. Opponents of the legislation argue that requiring prescription eyeglasses just generates business for optometrists.
The bill was carried by optometrist state Senator Jim McClendon (R-Springville) in the last session; but this time it is sponsored by Senator Gerald Dial (R-Lineville). In 2016 it passed the Senate; but failed in the Alabama House of Representatives.
Opponents did not show up for the public hearing.
At the end of the committee meeting, Chairman Gerald Dial announced that he was stepping down as Chairman of the Senate Health Committee and that Vice-Chairman McClendon would chair the committee going forward.
SB21 could be considered by the full State Senate as early as Tuesday.