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Posted February 19, 2005
Seller of Eye Supplement Purporting to Restore Vision and Eliminate "Floaters" Settles FTC Charges
The FTC’s complaint alleges that Hi-Health, based in Scottsdale, Arizona, and Chalpin promoted Ocular Nutrition through a nationwide radio advertising campaign. From January 2002 to June 2004, the respondents advertised Ocular Nutrition primarily through testimonials and other statements read on the Paul Harvey News & Comment radio show. In their advertising, the respondents promised that Ocular Nutrition would not just preserve eyesight, but actually restore vision lost to macular degeneration. They also claimed that several studies showed that the product could improve cataracts. The FTC’s complaint alleges that the respondents made unsubstantiated claims that Ocular Nutrition restores vision lost from age-related macular degeneration and eliminates floaters, and falsely claimed that nutritional studies in responsible medical journals confirm that the ingredients available in Ocular Nutrition may help individuals with cataracts and/or floaters. According to the FTC, there are no nutritional studies in responsible medical journals that confirm the respondents’ claims. According to the complaint, a statement issued by the National Eye Institute with regard to lutein (one of the active ingredients in Ocular Nutrition) cautions that while a number of studies suggest a link between lutein and decreased risk of eye disease, there is little, if any, definitive scientific evidence at this time to support claims that lutein can decrease the risk of developing cataracts.
In addition, the complaint alleges that the respondents falsely claimed that a study shows that 83 percent of ophthalmologists recommend or prescribe Ocular Nutrition to treat age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
The proposed consent agreement to settle the charges bans the respondents from claiming that the Ocular Nutrition supplement, or any substantially similar supplement product, restores vision lost from macular degeneration, or eliminates floaters, unless they have competent and reliable scientific evidence to support those claims. In addition, the proposed order prohibits the respondents from making claims about the benefits, performance, efficacy, or safety of any health-related service or program, dietary supplement, food, drug, or device unless they have competent and reliable scientific evidence that substantiates the claims and bans misrepresentations of any test or study. The proposed order requires the respondents to pay $450,000 to the FTC.