The inception of the internet has significantly turned traditional business models on their head with an ever increasing number of E-commerce stores that sell everything including a Boeing 747 commercial aircraft (sold on Alibaba’s Taobao)! It makes life more convenient, indeed. However, there is something that consumers really need to know when buying contact lenses online…
While buying contact lenses online saves you a travel to your eye care practitioner, you are literally putting your eye health at stake.
First off, contact lenses, regardless of what you use them for – be it for cosmetic or corrective purposes – are categorized as medical devices by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US, Ministry of Health in Malaysia, Health Sciences Authority in Singapore and Medical Devices Directive in the EU (including the UK).
And it is very clearly stated in Optical Act 1991 (Malaysia) that only a registered eye care practitioner like optometrists, ophthalmologists and contact lens opticians are allowed to dispense contact lenses as well as oversee such supply.
Enough of laws and regulations. What’s the fuss?
Did you know that contact lenses are complex medical devices, and therefore there’s a whole load of tests and checks that your eye care practitioner needs to carry out before fitting you contact lenses?
And YES, you need a comprehensive eye test that not only tests your sight but also the health of your eyes before you can be fitted with contact lenses in practice. Things like measuring the curvature of the front of your eyes (the cornea) for a good fit are carried out to avoid any contact lens complications because you could easily go blind due to such complications.
Does it stop here?
Certainly NO! Because you’ll have to attend regular contact lens checks as advised by your eye care practitioner on top of your routine eye examinations to make sure you are free from any complications and to check if you are using them correctly!
Cheaper if you buy contact lenses online? Not really
Remember you need to have routine, comprehensive eye examinations and regular contact lens checks (aftercare) as part of wearing contact lenses. You are missing out on all these measures that are in place to protect your eyes from serious bacterial/fungal/viral eye infections as a result of poor care and bad fit.
Hence, by opting to buy contact lenses online, you are missing out on the professionalism of your eye care practitioner who complies with a set of protocols to make sure everything is done correctly.
Contact lenses are dangerous?
Contact lenses by their own nature are not dangerous, but poor contact lens care and handling them wrongly can lead to serious damage especially if your contact lenses are not dispensed and fit by a registered eye care practitioner. My best advice when it comes to contact lenses?
Find your nearest fully-qualified and registered optometrist or contact lens optician if you want to wear contact lenses. They will take care of the rest for you.
The bottom line
It is really fine to buy contact lenses online IF:
- You get an eye exam (or skip this step if your eye exam is not due yet)
- Bring the lenses to your registered eye care practitioner and have them dispense/fit those lenses for you
- Attend regular contact lens checks as advised by your optometrist or contact lens optician
However, all these steps are not only paradoxical since you would not even know your corneal curvature without going to your eye care practitioner in the first place and it might end up costing you more if the lenses that bought online are found to be unsuitable to wear.
So why not just be on the safe side and buy your contacts from a registered eye care practitioner?
Hop over to this post if you want to find out how you can find a registered eye care practitioner in Malaysia and Singapore.