contacts.jpgMore than 30 million people wear contact lenses. Many of those wearers purchase their lenses through low-cost outlets, like online retailers (i.e. 1-800 Contacts) or discount brick and mortar clubs (i.e. Costco). However, a recent study indicates that bargain shopping may effect your eye health.

The medical journal Optometry: Journal of the American Optometric Association (JAOA) reports “The findings indicated that online and store purchasers . . . are less likely to adhere to healthy eye care practices, as recommended by their eye doctors.” “Those who bought contact lenses at their doctor’s office followed a number of FDA recommendations more so than those who bought contact lenses elsewhere.”

Other interesting findings were:

  • 86 percent of individuals who purchased their lenses from an eye doctor received a yearly comprehensive eye exam. But, only 76.5 percent of those individuals who purchased their lenses via the Internet saw an eye doctor on a routine basis.
  • 35 percent of online purchasers did not check that the prescription was correct.
  • Fifty-seven percent of individuals who purchased their lenses from an eye doctor went in for a follow-up appointment; as compared to only 29 percent of online purchasers.
  • The majority of consumers feel more confident purchasing their contact lenses from a familiar and reliable place such as their eye doctor or store rather than through the Internet.
  • 89 percent and 91 percent of respondents respectively said they felt confident purchasing contact lenses from their familiar, reliable eye doctor or store. That number decreased to 77 percent when surveying individuals who made a purchase via the Internet.

“Although buying contacts online can be more cost-effective and convenient, we strongly urge patients to understand that there are risks involved to wearing contact lenses,” said Dr. Sclafani, one of the researchers. “Because of this, it’s necessary that patients visit their eye doctor on a regular basis and communicate any recent visual changes and discomfort experienced as a result of contact lens wear.”