Internet Shopping for Contact Lenses

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.

  • Buying Medical Devices over the Internet:
  • Adapted from The Canadian Association of Optometrists website (

Common Questions

  1. Are contact lenses purchased online less expensive than buying them through my optometrist?
    Typically contact lenses are not less expensive when they are purchased online. To get a discounted price you often need to order large quantities, which you may or may not require. There also may be a shipping fee. Don’t be afraid to ask us how much your lenses cost. We also have a volume discount, if you choose to purchase a larger quantity of lenses. Also, we often have Manufacturer’s Rebates, which are not available through an online purchase.
  2. Can you assume that the lenses you are purchasing online are Canadian, because the website is Canadian?
    Not necessarily. Just because the website is Canadian, does not mean that the lenses are Health Canada approved. They could be from anywhere! Buyer Beware.
  3. Why else should I purchase my contact lenses from my doctor’s office?

    1. For most prescriptions we offer a FREE replacement of ripped or damaged lenses, until your new ones arrive.
    2. Free exchange of unopened, undamaged boxes of lenses, should your prescription change over the next 3 to 6 months (depending on the manufacturer).
    3. Professional care and consultation from knowledgeable staff and doctors. You can call us at any time with questions regarding your eyes and actually talk to a person.
    4. Convenience. You are already here at the office to have your eyes examined, have your glasses adjusted, pick up contact lens solution and it’s very convenient to order your contact lenses.
      You can even or fill out our online order form to order your next supply of contacts!

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.

2 Contact lenses purchased over the Internet place individuals potentially at risk for harmful eye care practices; Joshua Fogel, PhD., and Chaya Zidile.

Accepting new patients
throughout Waterloo Region