Infections linked to internet contact lens sales

Infections linked to internet CL sales

Internet purchase of contact lenses and missing out on vial eye checks have been blamed for a soaring rate of eye infections including Acanthamoeba keratitis.

A report in the Mail on Sunday (September 21) stated that ‘ foreign websites that sell lenses without asking to see evidence of a prescription are believed to be largely to blame for the problem’.

Professor John Dart of Moorfields Eye Hospital said that the trend towards internet purchasing had contributed to the risk because people did not undergo vital eye checks so frequently.  He has seen a seven-fold increase in cases of Acanthamoeba since 2010.

Speaking on The Breakfast Show this week (September 22), Professor Dart said that one study in Australia had made the association between internet purchase and infection and it was probably due to poor education of those patients who were not getting reinforced advice about contact lens safety measures, which they got when seeing their optometrist.

He added that patients could still buy lenses online but should go for an eye check.  Explaining the incidience of Acanthamoeba, he said: ‘It’s not a common infection.  It makes up only about 2-3 per cent of all contact lens wear infections we see.  If you get it a quarter of these patients will be under treatment for over 10 months.  Another quarter will need over 38 months of follow up, another quarter will need over 38 months of follow-up, another quarter will need over 31 hospital visits.  Three-quarters of the patients do reasonably well but a quarter will need some sort of corneal transplant to put the vision right after the disease is over or just to cure the infection.’

Simon Rodwell, secretary general of the Association of Contact Lens Manufacturers, said it had been working for some time with its Optical Confederation collegues to convey clear safety messages to the general public, and was working with the GOC on its illegal trading intitiave. ‘Safe and compliant contact lens wear is one of the most important strategic imperatives for manufacturers and governing bodies alike.  As part of the GOC’s initiative, the ACLM supports the need for all suppliers of contact lenses to communicate important safety information, especially where the sale and supply takes place online.’

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