AOA campaign urges consumers to focus on proper care
Nearly 41 million adults in the U.S. wear contact lenses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—and it's up to AOA members to educate them about the importance of proper contact lens use.
"Doctors should stay in close contact with patients to make sure they're receiving appropriate clinical guidance."
This week the AOA kicks off its annual public campaign to reinforce the message about the dangers of improper contact lens usage and the recommendation to visit a doctor of optometry to obtain a valid prescription for lenses.
According to AOA's 2015 American Eye-Q® consumer survey, contact lens wearers are guilty of a number of unhealthy habits: 31 percent of Americans use rewetting drops to clean and disinfect lenses, and 16 percent soak or clean lenses in tap water, both unsafe practices.
The survey also found that 26 percent of respondents who wore decorative contact lenses obtained them without a prescription.
"Contact lenses and lens care products are medical devices regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)," says Jeffrey J. Walline, O.D., Ph.D., chair of the AOA's Contact Lens & Cornea Section (CLCS). "Doctors should stay in close contact with patients who wear contact lenses to make sure they're receiving appropriate and up-to-date clinical guidance based on individual eye health needs."
How AOA members can help consumers
AOA members play a crucial role in taking this message into their local communities. Doctors can use the following resources to educate the public about proper contact lens use and put a stop to illegal contact lens sales.
- Public education and campaign materials—including press releases, suggested social media posts and an email pitch—can be used to highlight your expertise and services in the local community.
- The CLCS-developed website, contactlenssafety.org, offers the public a one-stop-shop interactive database for all things related to contact lens safety and care, and allows people to submit questions for review by contact lens experts.
- Additional public information—with specific attention to decorative contact lenses—can be accessed at contactlensart.org, the website developed as part of a partnership between the AOA, FDA and the Entertainment Industries Council to raise public awareness about the dangers of illegal and unsafe contact lens sales.
- The CLCS developed a watchdog group to track and report to the FDA the sale of contact lenses without a prescription everywhere from online retailers, to beauty shops and flea markets. Anyone who suspects illegal contact lens activity can report these retailers to stopillegalCLs@aoa.org. For more information, or to volunteer to create a watchdog group in your state, contact Kara Webb, AOA associate director for coding and regulatory policy, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here to find more information about reporting illegal contact lens sales.