Purchasing contact lenses online is risky

Purchasing contact lenses online may save consumers time, but the process could cause more problems in the long run, according to a new study reported in the January issue of Optometry: Journal of the American Optometric Association.

The research, conducted by Joshua Fogel, Ph.D., and Chaya Zidile of Brooklyn College, found that individuals who did not purchase their contact lenses from an eye doctor, but from an online site or store, are potentially placing themselves at greater risk.

The findings indicated that online and store purchasers (consumers who get their contacts at a wholesale club or optical chain outlet) are less likely to adhere to healthy eye care practices, as recommended by their eye doctor.

According to the Contact Lens Institute (CLI), more than 30 million individuals wear contact lenses. With the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act taking effect in 2004, mandating that the prescribing eye doctor provide a copy of the contact lens prescription at no charge to the patient, consumers have the option to purchase their lenses (with a valid prescription) elsewhere. With the Internet becoming a more recognized source for health and medical information, consumers are increasingly purchasing their contact lenses online.

“We found that a pattern exists regarding the method of contact lens purchasing and following recommendations from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA),” said Dr. Fogel. “Those who bought contact lenses at their doctor’s office followed a number of FDA recommendations more so than those who bought contact lenses elsewhere.”

The study, which researched the purchasing and eye care behaviors of contact lens wearers, found that 86 percent of individuals who purchased their lenses from an eye doctor received a yearly comprehensive eye exam. But, only 76.5 percent of those individuals who purchased their lenses via the Internet saw an eye doctor on a routine basis.

Source: American Optometric Association, USA



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