CLCS urges patient education on contact lenses
Curbing the sale of illegally dispensed contact lenses is a task championed by the AOA, and one in which public education and federal reporting by members continues to make a difference.
"Talk to your patients about plano decorative lenses, report abusers and keep AOA in the loop."
Notable advocacy influence in recent months has led to action among national retailers to cease the illegal sales of contact lenses, and as part of that same public health initiative, the AOA Contact Lens and Cornea Section (CLCS) encourages eye care professionals to remain watchful.
About 1 in 10 Americans report having worn decorative, plano contact lenses, and of those, more than half obtained them without a prescription from their eye doctor, according to the AOA's 2014 American Eye-Q® consumer survey.
Plano lenses are often distributed directly to consumers illegally through sources such as salons, flea markets or via the Internet, and this is a significant concern.
"A significant percent of the public believes that contact lenses without correction do not require a prescription," states Thomas Quinn, O.D., CLCS chair.
"Plano decorative contact lenses, like any other contact lens used improperly, can cause significant damage including corneal swelling, eye infection and corneal abrasion due to poor lens fit. These issues can result in a reduction of visual acuity, diminished contrast sensitivity, or reduced peripheral vision and other eye and vision impairments. These issues have little to do with the contact lens strength."
How to report illegal activity
The sale of any contact lenses without prescription is a violation of federal law, as described by the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act. If you are aware of an illegal contact lens retailer or if you know someone harmed by such lenses, use these links to report such incidents:
- Retailer illegally peddling contact lenses via online sales
- Retailer (including online) selling contact lenses with business practices that could lead to harm
- General problems or adverse reactions with decorative contact lenses
In addition to keeping an eye out for illegal sales, members also can take advantage of the pre-Halloween season to start educating patients about the risks associated with illegally procured lenses and proper contact lens safety. Resources such as the consumer-oriented website www.contactlenssafety.org can serve as a useful patient reminder.
"We need to stop the illegal sale of decorative contact lenses," Dr. Quinn says. "It's been widely abused for too long. The CLCS is initiating new, proactive measures to identify illegal sellers in order to protect the public. But we can't do it alone. We need your help. Talk to your patients about plano decorative lenses, report abusers and keep AOA in the loop."
For AOA's internal records, or assistance getting your message to the right people, please report all incidents to Kara Webb, Regulatory Policy and Quality Assessment specialist in the AOA's Washington, D.C., office, at firstname.lastname@example.org.