Contact Lens Abuse and Ordering Lenses Online

Recently I had a patient return for her yearly contact lens exam (6 months late). I had fit her in colored contacts at her last exam. She reported to me that she falls asleep in her contacts very often, and that her eyes were very dry.

Upon examination I discovered that her lenses were fitting very tightly, showing no movement whatsoever upon blinking. Her visual acuity was decreased in both eyes. I also noticed that the lens seemed be different than what I prescribed 18 months earlier.

I questioned her about this and she stated to me that she was trying a different brand that she ordered online. After removing her contact lenses I evaluated her corneas and discovered dense scars on her corneas.

Luckily she can still achieve 20/20 vision now that I ordered her to discontinue wearing contact lenses over the past few weeks. There will be scaring on her corneas forever, but not in her line of sight.

This is a good example of why we should not abuse the privilege of wearing contact lenses, and why online contact lens ordering is unpopular with eye doctors. There are some lenses that can be worn overnight – as long as they are properly fit by your eye doctor. FYI – THERE IS NO COLORED OR TINTED CONTACT LENS ON THE MARKET THAT SHOULD BE WORN OVERNIGHT!

Online contact lens retailers are required by law to verify a prescription by checking with that doctors office. They usually send us a fax and if no reply is received within 8 business hours, the order is automatically shipped – assuming the Rx is valid.

In case of this patient, she wanted to try a new contact lens color – and the Rx verification fax was received while we were closed. The result was an improperly fit lens and severe corneal scaring. Had the scar been 1mm higher on her cornea she would have suffered severe vision loss. Had she returned to us in 1 year for her exam I may have been able to prevent this from happening.

So please, if you wear contact lenses, have them evaluated yearly. Talk to your doctor if you sleep in your lenses often , and they will get you set up with a safe brand. And please, do not try to order something online that was not properly prescribed for you.

Brad Kaster O.D.