IACLE Position Statement on Contact Lens Fitting and Supply
Contact lenses are enjoyed by over 180 million people worldwide and provide many potential benefits to users. However, regulations on contact lens fitting vary widely around the world. In some countries, legislation requires that contact lenses only be fitted by a suitably trained and/or qualified eye care practitioner or health professional, while in other countries fitting remains unregulated.
Supply of contact lenses also varies from country to country. Sales may be restricted to specified personnel, or be available via routes such as pharmacies, supermarkets and online suppliers, or from unregulated optical shops.
There is evidence that unregulated supply of contact lenses may result in the use of inappropriate lenses, increase the risk of poorer lens hygiene, and militate against the prompt treatment of any consequent complications.1
Wearers who buy contact lenses from sources other an eye or health care practitioner have been shown to be less likely to follow good eye care health practices or to attend for regular check-ups.2 The risk of developing a rare but serious eye infection related to contact lens wear is nearly 5X higher with internet purchase of contact lenses than when lenses are bought from a qualified professional.3
The International Association of Contact Lens Educators (IACLE) is the leading provider of educational and information resources essential to contact lens educators worldwide.
Our mission includes raising the standard of contact lens education throughout the world and promoting the safe use of contact lenses. With nearly 1,000 members in 74 countries, IACLE plays a key role in educating the eye care practitioners of the future.
IACLE’s position is that whenever contact lenses are fitted and supplied, safeguards must be in place to help protect the health and comfort of wearers’ eyes.
The involvement of a trained professional in contact lens fitting and supply is important to the proper use of contact lenses worldwide. Instruction and advice on contact lens wear and care is an essential step in promoting safe use and helping wearers enjoy the many benefits of contact lenses.
The importance of regular check-ups to monitor eye health and compliance cannot be overemphasised. Our view is that this is best achieved when a trained professional is involved in both fitting and supply of lenses, and is able to intervene when necessary.
Our position relates to any lens that comes into contact with the eye, including zero-powered cosmetic contact lenses designed to change or enhance the eye’s colour or appearance. These lenses require fitting, instruction and ongoing clinical care, just as with contact lenses that correct the wearer’s vision.
Problems with cosmetic contact lenses are generally associated with poor compliance and hygiene, and with unregulated lens sales.4 The introduction of regulations to control the supply of cosmetic lenses may alleviate the level of complications.1
- Young G, Young AG and Lakkis C. Review of complications associated with contact lenses from unregulated sources of supply. Eye Contact Lens 2014;40:1 58-64.
- Fogel J and Zidile C. Contact lenses purchased over the internet place individuals potentially at risk for harmful eye care practices. Optometry 2008;79:1 23-35.
- Stapleton F, Keay L, Edwards K et al. The incidence of contact lens-related microbial keratitis in Australia. Ophthalmology 2008;115:1655–1662.
- Steinemann TL, Pinninti U, Szczotka L et al. Ocular complications associated with the use of cosmetic contact lenses from unlicensed vendors. Eye Contact Lens 2003;29:4 196-200.
Last updated September 2015