FTC fines vision improvement app-maker $150K for deceptive claims

By Brian Dolan
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The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has charged the marketers of a vision improvement app, called UltimEyes, with deceptively claiming they their program was scientifically proven to improve the user's eye sight. The company behind the app, Carrot Neurotechnology, and its co-owners Adam Goldberg and Aaron Seitz have agreed to pay $150,000 and to stop citing the claims. Notably, the $5.99 app is still available online and in various app stores -- just without the claims the FTC had a problem with.

ultimeyes-ad FTC provided this example of an ad from the app maker that included what the FTC alleges were deceptive claims.

The app guides users through visual exercises -- games, really -- that focus on reading speed, contrast sensitivity, and low light conditions, among others.

“This case came down to the simple fact that ‘Ultimeyes’ promoters did not have the scientific evidence to support their claims that the app could improve users' vision,” Jessica Rich, Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection said in a statement. “Health-related apps can offer benefits to consumers, but the FTC will not hesitate to act when health-related claims are not based on sound science.”

Among the app maker's deceptive claims highlighted by the FTC: the app would "turn back the clock on your vision" and that its users would benefit from "comprehensive vision improvement" for sports, reading and driving. The app would also reduce the need for glasses or contacts. The FTC said that the company's online ads also claimed that studies prove that UltimEyes works, but the FTC alleges those studies do not prove the app improves visions. The FTC also alleges that the company did not disclose in its ads that one of its co-owners was the researcher behind some of those studies.

 

The FTC is collecting public comments about the allegations through mid-October.

UltimEyes is the fifth health-related app to have the FTC file charges of deceptive claims against it, but it is the only one not to shut down as a result. In February the FTC made similar moves against the owners and marketers of two skin cancer-related apps -- Mole Detective and MelApp. Back in 2011 it went after two acne apps, AcneApp and Acne Pwner.