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May 28 2008
The British Contact Lens Association and General Optical Council have produced new literature to help consumers buy contact lenses safely.
Buying contact lenses will be used as part of a Summer consumer awareness campaign on 'Safe contacts'.
The eight-page leaflet lists common questions and answers about contact lenses. Questions include: How do I find out about wearing contact lenses? Can I ask for a copy of my contact lens details? Do I need a specification in order to buy contact lenses? How often should I have a contact lens check-up? What should I do if I have a problem with my lenses? Will I save money by buying contact lenses via the internet?
The leaflet points out that only registered optometrists, dispensing opticians with a specialist qualification (contact lens opticians) and medical practitioners can fit contact lenses, and outlines the legal situation on contact lens sale and supply.
It also describes the BCLA's position on contact lens sales, which stresses the importance of regular check-ups and that wearers should not change their prescribed lens type, wearing schedule, replacement frequency, solutions or care procedures without the recommendation of their eye care practitioner.
Outgoing BCLA president Nick Atkins said the aim was to encourage safe practice among consumers buying contact lenses and ensure they did not put the health and comfort of their eyes at risk.
"The BCLA has put this leaflet together, with the GOC, to support practitioners by helping patients understand the key considerations about where and how they buy their contact lenses," he said. "This is an excellent initiative, started by my predecessor Chris Kerr. It's a great example of a project that fulfills our mission of providing information as well as education for the ultimate benefit of the public."
GOC registrar Peter Coe added: "We want to make sure that the public are able to make well-informed consumer choices and look after their eyesight. This leaflet should help practitioners to talk to contact lens wearers about their options for buying lenses, what the law says, and how they can keep their eyes healthy by having proper fittings and aftercare."
The leaflet will be launched at this weekend's BCLA Clinical Conference, where there will be a roundtable discussion of the risks to patients from the general sales of contact lenses today (May 30).
A copy of the leaflet will be sent to BCLA members and extra copies will be available on request. Readers who have any case histories of contact lens wearers who have experienced eye problems as a result of buying contact lenses without having seen a registered optometrist, contact lens optician or medical practitioner, are asked to contact the BCLA on 020 7580 6661.