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Is It OK to Buy Contact Lenses Online?

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A woman smiling and wearing glasses holds a credit card while online shopping for contact lenses on her laptop.

With a rise in e-commerce, it’s understandable why many customers are attracted to online shopping. However, not all products are safe to buy online. Contact lenses are one of them. 

Here are a few reasons why they are different:

  • Contact lenses are medical devices
  • They go inside your eyes and sit directly on your cornea
  • One size does not fit all
  • Improper fit can lead to irreversible damage to the eye

Whether you are a new or seasoned contact lens wearer, regular contact lens exams and fittings at your optometrist’s office can ensure the right match for your vision needs and lifestyle. Contact lenses come in many types, including specialty contacts. Buying online without expert advice can result in selecting the wrong type for your eyes. 

This blog delves into why it’s not OK to buy contacts online, the risks, and if there are exceptions. 

Risks Associated with Buying Contact Lenses Online

While some might argue the benefits of buying contact lenses online, these benefits don’t outweigh the risks to your eye and vision health. Let’s take a look at some of these risks in more detail:

  • Some online sites don’t require a prescription. It’s a red flag because, without proper prescription verification, you risk wearing an incorrect corrective lens or the wrong size.
  • If online sites don’t have approval from Health Canada, their contact lenses can’t guarantee safety and quality testing. 
  • When online sites get their contacts from overseas, they may get exposed to temperature changes in warehouses or during transportation. It can affect the lens integrity and cause potential eye problems. 
  • It’s hard to verify the original from counterfeit contact lenses. Online sites can claim to sell well-known brands, but these could be copies.
  • Even with a prescription, there is no way to verify if the correct one is processed or if it will fit your eyes properly. Ill-fitting contact lenses can cause more damage to the eyes. 
  • Contact lenses bought online can have short expiry dates, be expired, have harmful materials, or are contaminated from the place of origin. These can lead to eye infections. 
  • You can order one thing and get something else entirely with online purchases. 
  • Some online sites may not offer replacement or exchange privileges.
  • Online purchases of contact lenses seldom come with proper instructions on the care and storage of contact lenses. 

Poor fit and incorrect prescription of contact lenses can cause the following symptoms:

  • Discomfort
  • Redness
  • Dry eyes
  • Excess watering
  • Irritated or stinging eyes
  • Reduced visual clarity
  • Discharge (eye secretions)
  • Feeling of a foreign object or scratch in the eyes
  • Permanent corneal damage
  • Inflammation leading to not being able to wear contacts anymore
Contact lens solution being dripped into a contact lens case with two contact lenses sitting in front.

When Can You Buy Contact Lenses Online

We all have unique vision needs, and thus one-size-fits-all is not an option for optimum vision and ocular health. Contact lens exams and fittings measure your eyes, cornea curvature, and tear film quality. 

Corneal topography is a tool that scans, measures, and creates an exact map of your cornea, which includes curvature size. With it, you can find the perfect contact lens fit and can diagnose corneal problems. 

A contact lens fitting can offer a fitting period where you can try contacts for 1 or 2 weeks to determine if they are comfortable and provide good vision correction. If it’s not quite the right fit or comfort, your optometrist can modify some parameters.  

Regular exams ensure the right contact lens for your eyes and that your prescription is up-to-date. Once you’ve had a contact lens exam and found a fit, the question remains: Can you buy your contacts online? 

If you want the added benefits of convenience, cost, and quality contact lenses, purchase them online directly through your eye doctor. To read your prescription from your eye doctor, you will need to understand the terms and information written on it. 

But before you can order these online, you need to obtain a contact lens fitting through your eye care practitioner or a certified contact lens fitter. Dr. Bishop & Associates have an online store that offers the following types of contact lenses with prescription and solutions:

  • Daily disposables
  • 2-week disposables
  • Monthly disposables
  • Multifocals and bifocals
  • Coloured/tinted
  • Contact lens solution
  • Contact lens drops
  • Dry eye drops

Contact Lenses at Dr. Bishop & Associates

There are many concerns and associated risks about purchasing contact lenses online. However, there are options, especially when you know a reputable site, such as when your optometrist has an online store. 

But if you are interested in buying prescription contact lenses online after an eye examination, contact Dr. Bishop & Associates about their online store. We only endorse what will positively impact your overall eye health and what’s in your best interest.

Written by Donald Bishop

In addition to his Doctor of Optometry from the University of Waterloo, Dr. Bishop also earned his pharmacological therapeutics certification from Northeastern State University of Oklahoma. He graduated in 1983 and has been practising optometry in Alberta ever since.

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