Both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTA) regulate the sales of contact lens. You, of course, must have a valid prescription for your contact lens. In today’s modern world, it is possible for you to purchase contact lenses several ways. You can shop in stores, use the Internet, order by phone or by mail.
The Advantages of Ordering Your Contact Lens Online
In America today, as many as 36 million people wear contact lenses, and sales of contact lenses amount to over USD 1 billion dollars each year. A large amount of those sales are made over the internet.
When shopping on the internet for your lenses, you should ask the sellers for the brand name, the power and the lens nomenclature. They should also give you detailed information including cylinder, sphere, diameter, axis, peripheral curve and base curve.
Purchasing your contact lens on the internet offers you many advantages including:
• Both a greater selection and lower prices are offered by online sites. Savings often amount to 70 percent.
• If you’re looking for a specific brand for your contact lenses, all too often that brand is difficult to find or out of stock in market stores. That happens rarely with online sites since almost every popular brand is available online.
• Online sites often offer valuable information by including many articles about topics such as the eye and its problems, existing solutions to problems related to vision, the various kinds of lenses, the care of lens and FAQS.
• You’re not limited to choosing lenses that are stocked in one shop. There are many different sites on the internet where you can explore contact lenses available from the major manufacturers. This makes it possible for you to not only compare prices but also the durability of the various lens, safety measures and the care of the lens. There are sites that permit the checking of types and prices of lens.
• Online sellers usually have experts available to answer any questions you may have as well as guide you in making the right choice of lenses. Details explaining the best lenses for sports, when it is not recommended you use contact lenses, and how to choose the best contact lens for you.
• Manufacturers of contact lenses often have their own website from which they sell. Therefore, if you’re currently using a certain brand of lenses and are satisfied with their comfort, you can simply order replacements. Cleaning solutions are also sold at these company sites at competitive prices.
• You are not limited to shopping for your contact lenses by the office or shop’s hours. You can shop online anytime in your own home.
• If you don’t have the original prescription for your lenses, don’t worry. Many online sites allow you to enter the information from your lens box, and they will contact your eye doctor to verify your prescription.
• If your order is $50 or more, many online sites will waive shipping costs. This gives you the advantage of having your lenses delivered to you for free.
Four Questions to Answer Before Purchasing Contact Lens
Whatever method you choose to purchase your contact lenses, the FDA recommends you consider the answers to the following questions in order to ensure your purchase is effective and safe.
1. Do you have a contact lens prescription that is both valid and current? In order to order contact lenses, you must have a prescription that is current and valid.
2. When was your last eye check-up? If your last eye check-up wasn’t in the last one or two years, you may have developed eye problems you are not aware of or your vision may not be corrected well with your contact lenses.
3. Do you know the expiration time requirement of your lens prescription for your state? The expiration time requirement for lens prescriptions vary by state. Some states have a one year renewal and some have a two year renewal requirement. If your state does not have a minimum expiration time requirement, you must follow the Federal regulation of one year unless there is a medical reason your eye care professional recommends less than one year.
4. Has your lens prescription expired? In order for your eyes to remain healthy, you should never order lenses with an expired prescription. It is also not a good idea to stock up on your lenses just before your prescription is going to expire. It is far better to be re-checked by your eye care professional to ensure your safety.
How Does the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act Protect You?
The Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act is a United States federal law created for the purpose of improving protection for consumers as well as ophthalmic health for users of contact lens. Certain rights were given to consumers by this act. The rights given to consumers included their freedom to choose where to shop as well as the right to have a copy of their prescription for contact lens. In addition, it forced lens sellers and prescribers to take on certain responsibilities. The Act also applied the rights eyeglass wearers have had for 25 years to contact lens wearers.
As a result of the Act, the Federal Trade Commission was required to develop rules as well as implement and enforce them. The Rule created by the FTC in July 2004 included the following:
• It defined who under state law was permitted to issue contact lens prescriptions to include optometrists, ophthalmologists and licensed opticians.
• It required that those permitted to issue prescriptions for contact lenses give a copy of the prescription to the patient. A copy must be given to the patient even if he or she doesn’t ask for it.
• Anyone designated by the patient to act on their behalf must either receive the contact lens prescription or receive verification of the prescription. This includes sellers if they are designated by the patient to act on their behalf.
• Prescribers are also not permitted to require patients to buy contact lenses, sign releases or waivers or pay additional fees in order to receive a copy of their prescription.
• Prescribers are forbidden to disclaim responsibility or liability for an eye examination’s accuracy.
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You won’t get into legal trouble by buying your contact lenses without a prescription. This is because you aren’t breaking any laws. However, the company selling you the lens will be violating the regulations of the FTC if they sell you contact lenses without your having a valid prescription. They are actually selling you a prescription item as if it were an over-the-counter item.
What Should Your Lens Prescription Include?
On order to ensure your prescription has sufficient information for the seller to accurately and completely fill your prescription, the FTC requires that it include the following:
• Your name
• The date of your examination
• Both the prescription issue date and date it will expire
• The prescriber’s name, address, phone number, and fax number
• Lens power
• Prescribed lens base curve
• Diameter of prescribed contact lens when appropriate
• Prescribed lens manufacturer and/or material
• If the prescription is for contact lens of a private label, the private label brand’s trade name, and the manufacturer’s name as well as an equivalent brand’s trade name when applicable.
Tips for Ordering Contact Lens Online
- Although your optometrist is required by the FTC to give you a copy of your lens prescription, you should be sure to ask for it in case it isn’t given to you. If you do not have a current prescription, you should schedule an eye exam as soon as possible.
- If you are reordering the lens you currently have, you can find the contact lens prescription information on the box. Internet sites will verify your prescription after you place an order.
- Unless your prescription is about to expire, it is a good idea to buy in bulk. By ordering a six-month or annual supply, you are often able to get free shipping which will save you money.
- When ordering online, you can expect your contacts to arrive in just a few days from when you placed your order. So, order now!
How to Avoid Serious Problems When Purchasing Your Contact Lens
1. The supplier you order your contact lenses should be one that you know is reliable or that you are familiar with.
2. You should ask the manufacturer to make the written information about your contact lenses available to you. This information will give you both instructions on how to use the contact lenses you are purchasing and the risks and benefits of the lens use.
3. If you’re currently using a specific brand, you should not substitute the brand you are currently using with a different brand. Only an examination by your eye care professional should determine a change in the lens you are using. It should not be determined by a telephone conversation since an eye examination is essential for determining whether a change is needed.
4. It is essential that you carefully check that the company gives you:
- the exact brand
- name of lens
- cylinder, if any
- axis, if any
- base curve
- peripheral curves, if any
If you happen to receive a lens you perceive to be incorrect, don’t accept it unless you have checked with your eye care professional. Unless your eye care professional approves a substitution, you should not accept it.
Reporting Problems When Purchasing Contact Lens
• You should report any web site you believe is selling contact lenses illegally to theFDA.
• You should report all problems with your lens directly to the company that supplied them. This especially includes your not receiving the exact lens you ordered.
• Any complaint regarding prescribing practices should be filed with the FTC using the FTC Consumer Complaint Form.