Canadians are increasingly turning to the internet to purchase products. The internet can be a “wild frontier” of unregulated trade. Websites that sell glasses and contact lenses have been operating for some time and advertise aggressively. They tend to promote low price and convenience. So is there any downside to purchasing your glasses and contact lenses online?
In Ontario, as in much of North America, the act of prescribing and dispensing contact lenses or glasses is a controlled act that must be performed by a licenced Optometrist or Ophthalmologist as dictated by the Regulated Health Professions Act. Opticians are regulated health professionals who are licensed to dispense a prescription from an Optometrist or Ophthalmologist.
Online retailers do not usually introduce you to an individual regulated health professional or allow you to meet them face to face. Most do not require proof of a valid, current prescription. Frames cannot be adequately sized or fitted and lenses cannot be adequately positioned before the eyes. Children and the elderly are particularly at risk as they may be less likely to verbalize vision problems resulting from poorly made or fitted glasses.
To ensure successful contact lens wear individuals must be properly fitted, trained and monitored. Without this, the risk of harm to the eyes is significantly increased. The wearers of contact lenses purchased online are not normally asked to submit proof of proper fitting, training and ongoing monitoring of their eye health by a regulated health professional placing them at risk of poor vision, discomfort or eye harm.
Here are some guidelines to follow when choosing where and how to fill your prescription.
- Meet your Optometrist or Optician face-to-face and know their name and credentials.
- Provide them with a physical copy of your prescription.
- Expect that glasses frames will be properly sized and fitted and that additional measurements will be taken for lens positioning.
- Plan to answer questions about your needs and lifestyle and expectations of your new eyewear.
- Expect to have your contact lenses properly fitted. The lenses should be assessed on the eye and you should be properly trained in their use, care and precautions. Expect more than one visit if you are a first time wearer.
- Your eye care professional should counsel you on the use of your eyewear and expected adaptation and limitations.
- Follow-up should be welcomed and is often required for adjustments, repairs and problem solving.
It makes sense to fill your prescription from your Optometrist. Your Optometrist understands your vision and already knows much about your lifestyle, needs and history. Because of this, the process of selecting, dispensing and adapting to your eyewear is streamlined and the continuity of care is maintained.
Consider your eyes. Maybe it’s more than just saving a few dollars; it’s caring for one of your most precious senses.
For further information visit the College of Optometrists of Ontario’s website:http://www.collegeoptom.on.ca/index.php/public/patient-faqs ,or discuss this topic at your next visit to the office.