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Shopping for contact lenses, on the internet, may seem to be a very convenient way to get your contact lenses, but did you know that you may be putting your eye health at risk?
As Doctors of Optometry we are regulated by a College, whose mandate is to protect the public. That means you! Many online contact lens retailers are not regulated, particularly when their principle location is outside of Canada. You may not even be aware that you are getting a non-Canadian product.
There are increasing concerns following reports of contact lens wearers experiencing eye health problems after buying lenses online, without getting proper eye care and professional advice.
All medical devices sold in Canada must have a Canadian Medical Device License, including contact lenses. Lenses that are sold online may not have the appropriate license and therefore would NOT be approved for distribution in Canada as they may not meet Health Canada’s requirements for safety.
Sales of contact lenses are regulated to protect consumers from eye health problems. Unfortunately, unregulated internet retailers are not obligated to check ‘specifications’ provided by the eye care professional, before supplying corrective lenses. Overseas distribution channels may have ‘grey market’ (counterfeit) product and risk being exposed to extreme temperature changes during transportation, which could affect the integrity of the contact lenses. Here in Waterloo Region, we are exposed to significant weather fluctuations, from season to season. Temperatures are in the high 30°C range in the summer months and can go as low as -30°C in the winter months. Leaving your contact lenses in your mailbox in the winter, could result in the storing solution freezing and then warping the lenses when it is thawed. In the summer, heat is also a concern.
When you are professionally fitted for contact lenses several elements are evaluated including the eye curvature, tear chemistry and the prescription itself. Our optometrists will also choose an eye care solution for you based on compatibility of different lens materials and eye physiology. It is not a case of one size fits all or what do I have in inventory. We have access to every brand available and choose what is best for you!
Two studies 1 2 confirm the increased risks associated with purchasing contact lenses online. The risk of serious infection was found to be nearly five times higher.Sources:
1 The incidence of and risk factors for contact lens related microbial keratitis in Australia and New Zealand . Edwards, Catherine Patrice, Optometry & Vision Science, Faculty of Science, UNSW. Handle.unsw.edu.au/1959.4/3
2 Contact lenses purchased over the Internet place individuals potentially at risk for harmful eye care practices; Joshua Fogel, PhD., and Chaya Zidile. www.aoa.org/documents/optm-447-Fogel.