Worldwide call for professional involvement in contact lens fitting

International Association of Contact Lens Educators issues first ever position statement which covers plano and coloured contact lenses

contact lens on finger

The International Association of Contact Lens Educators (IACLE) has released its first-ever position statement, calling for trained professionals to be involved in the fitting and supply of contact lenses in all countries to help ensure their correct use worldwide.

IACLE’s position relates to any lens that comes into contact with the eye, including zero-powered cosmetic contact lenses.

The move comes in the wake of the recent US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, released to mark its Contact Lens Health Week (24–28 August). The report highlighted the need for education efforts to improve contact lens hygiene behaviours.

IACLE provides educational and information resources to contact lens educators worldwide. Its 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, the organisation plays a key role in educating the practitioners of the future. 

IACLE points out that contact lenses are worn by over 180 million people worldwide and provide many potential benefits to users. However, regulations on contact lens fitting and supply 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 or health professional, while in other countries fitting remains unregulated. Therefore the supply of contact lenses could be restricted to specified personnel, or be available via routes such as pharmacies, supermarkets and online suppliers, or from unregulated optical shops.

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 organisation has highlighted that instruction and advice on contact lens wear and care is an essential step in promoting safe use and in helping wearers enjoy “the many benefits of contact lenses."

The statement also highlights the importance of regular check-ups to monitor eye health and compliance and this “cannot be overemphasised.” 

IACLE concluded: “Our view is that this is best achieved when a trained professional is involved in both the fitting and supply of lenses, and is able to intervene when necessary.”

IACLE president, Dr Shehzad Naroo, reader at Aston University, said: “It’s appropriate that our first position statement should relate to the role of the trained eye care professional in helping to promote the safe use of contact lenses worldwide.”

Dr Naroo added: “We would urge all countries to examine evidence in the literature for the public health benefits of regulating contact lens fitting and supply.”

Canada, where IACLE’s Secretariat is based, recently became the latest country to announce regulation on the sales of cosmetic contact lenses.