(CN) – The 9th Circuit reinstated California laws barring eyewear companies from advertising and selling prescription glasses in the same place that customers get their eyes examined.
The state said it passed the laws to prevent optometrists and ophthalmologists from being overly influenced by business interests, including opticians like LensCrafters.
LensCrafters, the National Association of Optometrists & Opticians, and Eye Care Centers of America challenged the restriction as a violation of the Constitution’s dormant Commerce Clause.
LensCrafters argued that the law discriminates against opticians by stripping them of the ability to provide “one-stop shopping” for their customers, although the state allows optometrists and ophthalmologists to set up practices where customers can get their eyes checked and also buy prescription eyewear.
The district court sided with the plaintiffs and enjoined California opticians from operating alongside optometrists and ophthalmologists.
But Judge Hug of the San Francisco-based federal appeals court reversed, concluding that opticians “are not similarly situated to optometrists and ophthalmologists.”
Ophthalmologists and optometrists have extensive education and training, and have to meet special ethical and professional responsibilities, the judge said.
“Unlike optometrists and ophthalmologists, opticians are not health care providers, do not diagnose or treat diseases of the eye, and may be owned and operated as commercial concerns,” Hug noted.
Based on this distinction, the court ruled that a state law treating opticians differently does not violate the dormant Commerce Clause.