Optometrists warning over contact lens give away

AOP condemns Vision Direct initiative as irresponsible and dangerous

The Association of Optometrists (AOP) has raised serious concerns over a promotion from Vision Direct offering to give away 4,000 packs of disposable contact lenses to NHS and key workers. 

The AOP is condemning the online retailer’s latest marketing ploy, which has been pitched as “making personal protective equipment (PPE) easier and more comfortable to use” as irresponsible and dangerous – as well as being out of line with UK law that protects customers’ eye health.
Thousands of frontline workers are likely to access the lenses without realising that by doing so they risk their eye health, and in extreme cases their sight. Optometrist and Head of Clinical and Regulatory at the AOP, Henry Leonard said: “We all want to support NHS workers during the coronavirus pandemic, but supplying contact lenses to key workers who may never have worn them before, without ensuring the lenses fit properly and provide clear vision, or even checking whether they can insert and remove their lenses safely, is extremely irresponsible. Contact lenses are medical devices which can cause permanent harm when used incorrectly, which is why UK law says they must be fitted by, and supplied under the general direction of, a registered professional.

“Since this promotion is aimed at NHS staff and key workers, it has the potential to impact the UK’s health infrastructure in the middle of a pandemic – something we obviously want to avoid at all costs,” Mr Leonard added.   

Under the current UK rules, contact lenses must be fitted by a registered professional before they can be supplied, and the supply itself must also be overseen by an eye care professional, a safety measure in place to protect the public. However, many companies that target UK consumers, such as Vision Direct, are registered overseas and do not necessarily follow UK law. The AOP is calling on the General Optical Council (GOC), which is the regulator for optics in the UK, to do more to protect patients from websites that target UK customers but don’t follow the UK rules on patient safety.

For more information, please contact Serena Box, PR and Media Manager, at the Association of Optometrists, [email protected] or telephone 020 7549 2040.

Notes to Editors

Association of Optometrists

The Association of Optometrists (AOP) is the leading representative membership organisation for optometrists in the UK. We support over 82% of practising optometrists, to fulfil their professional roles to protect the nation’s eye health. For more information, visit