BUYING prescription contact lenses online is the subject of continued debate due to the legislation that surrounds the purchase of contact lenses in the UK. At the moment, the UK is the only country in Europe that insists that consumers have a valid prescription in order to buy contact lenses and they can only buy the amount of lenses that fall within the dates of that prescription.
So, should consumers be allowed to buy contact lenses online without a prescription?
Unsurprisingly, there are many differing opinions on the subject. During a recent You & Yours interview on BBC Radio 4, Dr Catharine Chisholm, from the British Contact Lenses Association, stressed that she believed that it was not safe to buy contact lenses without a prescription. She said: “You must always buy based on a valid prescription that’s within date because the eye changes, and it may be that some newer lenses are more suitable for your eyes and your eye care practitioner needs to see the lens on your eye to know that it’s working and needs to follow it up over time.”
Ashley Mealor, marketing director at GetLenses.co.uk, who also took part in the BBC Radio 4 debate, disagreed, stating during the interview that as long as patients bought replacement lenses prescribed by the optician then it was perfectly safe to buy them online. He said: “You can actually decide that you don’t want to send us your prescription and that’s really because our customers said, ‘Look, we don’t want the hassle of having to send the prescription through to you’. A significant number of GetLenses.co.uk customers now order without a prescription and the company supply them through their subsidiary GetLenses BV in Europe in order to be fully compliant with EU law.”
One thing that many customers ask when they buy contact lenses online is if they need to continue getting eye checks every six-12 months. The General Optical Council states that eye test should be carried out every two years but this is at the discretion of the optician. Although many people find that their prescription hasn’t changed between eye tests. The You & Yours debate also highlighted some news stories reporting the potential dangers of buying contact lenses online from less than reputable retailers.
Mealor continues: “While there are some stories of consumers having problems with internet-based contact lenses retailers, when we looked into these stories, we found that hygiene was also a factor in the problems that some people experienced when buying contact lenses online. We actively encourage our customers to follow the British Contact Lens Association’s guidelines on averting infections, such as:
1. Avoiding using tap water to rinse lenses or the storage case
2. Not wearing lenses while swimming without goggles, showering or in hot tubs
3. Washing and drying hands properly before using contacts.
“We know that buying contact lenses from an online retailer can seem daunting, but we’re determined to prove that it can actually be very safe and trustworthy.”
Founded in 2002 by Brendan O’Brien, GetLenses.co.uk can pride themselves on being started by opticians who understand the importance of eye care and health. The website has since grown to become the UK’s largest online retailer of contact lenses. The company’s aim is to offer the widest range of contact lenses, solutions and eye care products, delivered quickly to your door, at unbeatable prices with the highest standard of customer service.
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