Consumer campaign: Curb illegal contact lens purchases

Consumer campaign: Curb illegal contact lens purchases

Consumers think decorative contact lenses complete their scary Halloween costumes, but what's truly frightful are the repercussions from sidestepping eye doctors to procure lenses illegally.

"It's extremely important that consumers get an eye exam and only wear contact lenses ... that are properly fitted and prescribed by an eye doctor."

The AOA launches its annual public campaign this week to reinforce the message about the dangers of improper contact lens usage and the recommendation to visit an OD to obtain a valid prescription for lenses. And AOA members are crucial in taking that message into their local communities.

According to the AOA's 2014 American Eye-Q® survey, 11 percent of consumers have worn decorative, plano lenses, and of those, 53 percent purchased them without a prescription.

"Unfortunately, many consumers mistakenly believe they don't need a prescription for decorative contact lenses that do not provide vision correction," states Thomas Quinn, O.D., AOA Contact Lens and Cornea Section (CLCS) chair, in the campaign.

"It's extremely important that consumers get an eye exam and only wear contact lenses, with or without vision correction, that are properly fitted and prescribed by an eye doctor."

Access these public education and campaign materials—including press releases, suggested social media posts and an email pitch—to highlight your expertise and services in the local community.

By the numbers: Common contact lens faux pas
As part of the campaign, a news release includes six common mistakes made by patients when it comes to using contact lenses. Those errors are emphasized by the results of the American Eye-Q survey that found among contact lens wearers:

  • 57 percent admitted they wore disposable contacts longer than directed
  • 54 percent reported they waited 4 to 6 months or longer to change contact lens cases
  • 39 percent stated they did not clean lenses with a multipurpose solution daily
  • 35 percent said they did not wash their hands prior to handling lenses
  • 26 percent stated they wore lenses while swimming
  • 21 percent reported they slept in contacts

Be sure to also refer consumers to a pair of web-based resources developed specifically to answer public and patient questions regarding contact lens safety and hygiene.

The CLCS-developed website,, 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, the website developed as part of a partnership between the AOA, U.S. Food & Drug Administration and the Entertainment Industries Council to develop an ongoing PSA campaign.

October 6, 2014

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