July 11, 2015

Buying Contacts Online

By: Dr. S. Sharma
buying contacts online
Today, I thought I would share some thoughts about a question I get a fair amount from patients and non-patients alike. The question being, how safe is it to buy contact lenses and glasses online? Before I share my thoughts on the topic, I think it’s important to note that there may be some reputable online companies that do the work required to sell safe products and go above and beyond to ensure that their staff adhere to the highest levels of Canadian health and safety guidelines. That being said, there are a lot of risks associated with this method of obtaining contact lenses. Here are a few things to consider when thinking about purchasing contact lenses online:

Retail Product or Medical Device?

As an Optometrist, I work in your best interest. That means your eye health and the quality of your contact lenses and glasses is also very important to me. When you are purchasing from an online supplier, you are more than likely perceived as a customer or a sale, rather than a patient. When it comes to your eye health, what would you rather be? I bring this point up to emphasize the point that contact lenses are a regulated medical device that need to meet Health Canada’s strict guidelines and they should be treated as such.This is mainly because improper use of contact lenses can have serious, long-lasting effects to the quality of your vision. As such, I suggest you use only the eye care solutions recommended by your Doctor of Optometry.

Fit Matters

When fitting contact lenses and glasses, the measurement of your face and eyes matter the most. The fitting process associated with contact lenses and glasses cannot be done through purchasing online. This is a concern as improperly fitted contact lenses or glasses can result in blurred vision, headaches, nausea and in some cases dizziness. It’s important to remember that, “every contact lens product is unique and designed for a particular purpose. This includes everything from the material, curvature, fit, oxygen permeability, deposit resistance, moisture content and lifespan” (Canadian Doctors of Optometry).

Real or Really Fake?

Counterfeit products are also a risk that is hard to avoid when purchasing contact lenses and eyewear online. Internet suppliers may be selling counterfeit products or repackaging them to look like popular brand name products. Verifying the authenticity of contact lenses purchased from the internet supplier may be difficult to do. Consult your Doctor of Optometry if you are ever in doubt of the contacts you may have purchased.

Prescription Problems

Different countries have different rules and regulations for filling a prescription and there is the risk of online retailers filling prescriptions that are expired. It’s important to keep your prescription up-to-date by consulting an Optometrist on a yearly basis so your eyes are getting the right type of eye care solution.


Often, one of the biggest reasons people may look into internet suppliers for their contact lens needs is the perception that they are cheaper online. This is not necessarily true. Due to things like varying exchange rates and hidden shipping costs, contact lenses from online stores may end up being more expensive than if you purchased through a Doctor of Optometry.

We appreciate you letting us be a part of your health care needs. Contact us today for any eye care questions you may have or book an appointment today.   

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