GOC warns of health risk of Halloween CLs

The optical regulator has warned the public of using cosmetic contact lenses purchased without the supervision of an optician or medical professional and potential eye health risks

26 Oct 2015 by Ryan O'Hare

The General Optical Council (GOC) has issued a warning to the public that they may be putting their sight at risk by using cosmetic contact lenses this Halloween.

Speaking to the magazine of the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, TS Today, which will be published in the November issue, the GOC warns that wearers are putting their eye health at risk by buying lenses from non-optical outlets, such as novelty shops or market stalls.

While zero powered, or plano, contact lenses are dealt with separately from powered contact lenses, the law states that they must be dispensed in the supervision of a registered optometrist, dispensing optician or medical practitioner.

The GOC’s director of strategy, Alistair Bridge, said: “Cosmetic contact lenses should not be supplied by anyone other than an optician or doctor. Opticians make sure that contact lenses fit properly and that wearers receive expert advice on how to wear and store them safely.”

He added: “They will also offer important advice such as not to sleep in contact lenses and to never share or swap lenses, which can spread eye disease.”

Chief executive of the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, Leon Livermore, said: “Cosmetic contact lenses are often made and distributed on a 'one size fits all' basis and not tailored to the wearer's needs which can increase the risk of eye health issues.”

Mr Livermore added: “To minimise these risks it is essential that cosmetic lenses are fitted by a qualified professional who is able to provide advice on their safe use and ongoing care. We would advise against buying products like these online, or from retailers, as without professional supervision, there are more likely to be health concerns for the individual.”

Anyone with information relating to outlets selling cosmetic contact lenses illegally can contact the GOC’s legal compliance department at lc@optical.org or call 020 7307 3931.

Earlier this month the regulator concluded its consultation into strategies for tackling illegal practice, which includes the online sale of contact lenses.

The GOC aims to introduce a voluntary code of practice for online contact lens retailers, with retailers who sign up awarded a logo to help the public recognise them as a regulated supplier.

Under the proposals, those found in breach of the code would have their use of the logo revoked. However, details on what form any further action might take are yet to emerge.

Image credit: Flickr /Ray Wewerka

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