Buying contact lenses solo can lead to foolish shortcuts

By Tom Nordlie • Published: April 9th, 2008
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Buying contact lenses is easier than it used to be.

And that’s not always a good thing.

Federal law lets patients get prescriptions from eye-care professionals and have them filled elsewhere.

In some cases they can even buy contacts without a prescription.

It seems foolish to rely on guesswork in this situation.

Yet according to a study published recently in the journal Optometry, many people do it.

Researchers surveyed about one-hundred-fifty Brooklyn College students about their contact-lens purchases.

Forty-three percent bought at least some contacts the traditional way, from a doctor’s office.

The other fifty-seven percent relied strictly on stores and Internet merchants.

Of those who only bought contacts in stores or online, almost a third didn’t get an eye exam every year. And more than a fourth of them made purchases without a prescription.

Even among those buying from doctors, about fourteen percent skipped the annual exam.

Considering how important vision is, these shortcuts are short-sighted at best.

Contacts made according to an inaccurate prescription can cause eye strain and headaches. And without proper follow-up, purchasers could get lenses that don’t fit well.

Experts caution that a devil-may-care attitude can lead to other problems, too.

Patients who sleep in their contacts, or fail to clean them regularly, sometimes develop infections. The result can be loss of vision or the need for a corneal transplant.

So don’t be a victim of this kind of “lazy eye syndrome.”

If you wear contacts, make regular contact… with a doctor.