1-800 Contacts notifies patients not to wear AquaSoft lenses due to lens defect

October 1, 2020
The company has recalled its AquaSoft brand of contacts because of a manufacturing defect that may cause eye discomfort and irritation.
AquaSoft lenses recall

Doctors and patients should be aware of a recent recall of 1-800 Contacts’ lens AquaSoft Daily.

In its recall notice to consumers, 1-800 Contacts reported “a potential issue in some lenses that may cause problems for certain wearers, including discomfort and irritation.” It asks consumers to stop wearing AquaSoft lenses. This recall is especially concerning because the AOA has evidence that 1-800 Contacts previously encouraged customers who used their online vision test, ExpressExam, to renew their prescriptions to switch to the AquaSoft brand of lenses. Customers who switched were given a prescription for the 1-800 Contacts-owned brand without going through a separate fitting process. 

“Contact lenses are not interchangeable and a physician’s examination of a contact lens on the patient’s eye is critical to ensure comfort and appropriateness of the lens for the patient’s eye health,” says Jason Compton, O.D., chair of the AOA Contact Lens and Cornea Section. “The recent notice from 1-800 Contacts also neglected to advise patients who are experiencing discomfort and irritation to seek in-person care with an eye care professional.

“The AOA takes seriously the need to protect the public’s eye health,” Dr. Compton says. “An in-person, corneal evaluation is important with every contact lens patient but especially for the symptomatic contact lens wearer. This action by 1-800 is just another reason why we’ve continued to press the FDA and FTC for action related to online vision tests and our concerns with substitutions that sometimes occur through those types of apps. Contact lenses, while safe and effective for millions of Americans, are regulated medical devices and physician oversight is imperative to ensure healthy wear.”

The AOA will continue to advocate for patient safety and denounces practices that disrupt the doctor-patient relationship.

Keeping the pressure on retailers

In a separate action, a May 2020 letter to the FTC cited prescription verification issues involving multiple retailers during the COVID-19 crisis. Members were seeing an increase in the number of contact lens prescription verification issues, according to the AOA Health Policy Institute survey.

“This can lead to patients receiving lenses not prescribed and adds unnecessary burden on physician practices during this high-stress time, as doctors are working to identify and care for the emergency eye care needs of patients,” the letter to the FTC says.

Among reported doctor concerns were an increased number of reports of automated phone calls (robocalls) and faxes seeking prescription verification for patients the doctor has never seen and other unusual correspondence.

“AOA fully supports patients having access to their contact lens prescriptions and appreciates that patients now have more options than ever for purchasing contact lenses,” says the letter signed by AOA Immediate Past President Barbara L. Horn, O.D. “Our concerns are rooted in the serious inadequacies of the use of robocalls for prescription verification. These problems and limitations have been made even more clear during this time of crisis.

“With the use of robocalls for prescription verification, it is challenging for physicians to ensure that any corrected information provided to a retailer in response to a verification request was received by the retailer, and that the retailer acted in accordance with the information received from the physician. This lack of a complete communication loop is ultimately a disservice to patients.”

What can doctors of optometry do?

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