New Jersey Enacts Important Eye Safety Legislation

New Jersey Academy of Ophthalmology supports eye drop protections.

New Jersey
 – May 8, 2013  –– 

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed important patient safety legislation into law that would ensure continuity of therapy for patients with eye and sight problems. This legislation will allow for the uninterrupted administration necessary eye medication for patients who are in need of early refills. The New Jersey Academy of Ophthalmology (NJAO), spearheaded by President Cecily Lesko, MD – an alumnus of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai – was at the forefront of this legislation, advocating on behalf of New Jersey patients.

"Today marks a single and significant step in preservation of sight," said Dr. Cecily Lesko. "Many diseases of the eye are treated with chronic therapy through use of medications. Glaucoma is the most common. Left untreated, it is one of the leading causes of blindness. With this effort and outcome, proper treatment remains available to more patients who will benefit personally and directly through the treasured gift of sight."

"It is not at all unusual for a young and healthy patient to have trouble administering eye drops...getting every drop to hit the eye every time. It is virtually impossible for the elderly, or those with tremors, Parkinson’s, arthritis or poor sight to do this," added Lesko. "If you drop a pill, you can always pick it up and try again. We take that for granted. But if you miss your eye, that eye drop is lost forever."

A-3080, sponsored by Assembly members Schaer, Lampitt, Giblin and Mosquera, and S-2166, sponsored by Senators Madden, Sweeney, Thompson and Weinberg, requires insurance companies and health plans to provide coverage for the early refill of prescription eye drops at 70% of the predicted days of use. By way of example, for a prescribed medication with an expected duration of 30 days of use, the refills would be permitted at 21 days, instead of the usual 30 days most benefit programs allow.

This legislation is particularly significant for glaucoma patients. Anyone who has used eye drops knows how easy it is to miss or have more than one drop fall from the bottle. This new law helps ensure that people do not skip critical prescription eye drops simply because they spilled or lost some of their eye drops.

The bill was signed on May 6, 2013, by Governor Christie, and takes effect in August 2013.