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Home » News and Events » What You Need to Know About Buying Contact Lenses From Online Vendors: Consumer Beware

What You Need to Know About Buying Contact Lenses From Online Vendors: Consumer Beware

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Optometrists care about patient health and safety. When you are interested in purchasing contact lenses, consider first the potential negative impacts of using online contact lenses vendors that may affect your vision health, eyes, and wallets. An educated consumer makes for healthy choices.

In this chaotic and busy world, it can feel convenient to simply go online, check your prescription, and order new contact lenses or eyeglasses and as many online sites would suggest you skip the doctor visit altogether.  There are substantial and risky pitfalls when using online vendors to obtain your contact lenses and glasses prescription rather from your trusted optometrist – and they could be a threat to your sight!

Of the many occurrences of price fixing, illegitimate online eye exams, fraudulent consumer information, and breaches of federal regulations by online contact lens vendors that have occurred, the most recent event resulted in legal action when in January  The Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that the government would fine Hubble contacts 3.5 million dollars for violating the Contact Lens Rule and illegally substituting contact lenses (Read more about this, here). With all events of this type, there is not just financial burden to the consumer but more importantly, these firms are placing the consumer’s vision and health at severe risk for their profit.

A substantial number of case reports of ophthalmic complications associated with contact lenses obtained through illegal and unregulated sources of supply reveal a number of instances in which an inexperienced user purchases lenses or plano decorative contact lenses over-the-counter without having the proper training on usage and storage, leading to microbial keratitis -a sight threatening disorder.  [i] [ii]

Ordering contacts through your eye doctor can be less expensive in many cases! Most importantly, your trusted local eye doctor will be available to help in maintaining your eye and systemic health. In addition, they are able to immediately apply vision plan benefits and offer higher manufacturer rebates giving you, the patient/consumer as great financial savings.[ix] [x]

In summary:

  • Infographic explaining the importance of comprehensive eye exams
  • See an eye care professional to get a prescription for your eyeglasses and/or contact lenses. It is better to purchase contacts only from licensed eye care professionals – being aware that online vendors and other establishments (beauticians, tattoo parlors, cosmetic store …) are not licensed to practice optometry or ophthalmology and do not have the proper training to engage in such activities.
  • Be aware of false claims: Packaging that claims “one size fits all” or “no need to see an eye doctor” is false.
  • Purchase only FDA-approved products.
  • Never share contacts. Sharing contacts can spread germs and bacteria, potentially causing sight threatening eye infections. Contact lenses not fitted properly for your eye can cause vision-threatening damage.
  • Practice good hygiene. It is important to follow directions for cleaning, disinfecting, and wearing contacts. See an your optometrist or ophthalmologist right away if you notice any swelling, redness, pain or discharge from wearing contacts.[xi]

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