The Health October 2021 - Page 20

The Malaysian Optical Council cautions public against purchasing inferior contact lenses from unauthorised channels

20

THE HEALTH | OCTOBER , 2021

| Issue |

Shop safely for contact lenses

The Malaysian Optical Council cautions public against purchasing inferior contact lenses from unauthorised channels

BY KHIRTINI K KUMARAN

IN MALAYSIA , all powered and non-powered contact lenses , including cosmetic lenses , have to be registered as medical devices under the Medical Devices Act .

However , despite its classification as a medical device , contact lenses can be purchased from various online and offline platforms , such as night markets , social media , and e-commerce sites .
This leads to wrongful and unsafe contact lenses purchase which are most likely detrimental to consumer ’ s eye health .
Therefore , to create awareness among consumers and better monitor and control the online sale of contact lenses , guidelines have been developed by the Malaysian Optical Council ( MOC ).
Optometrist Nor Azizah Ismail , secretary of the MOC , shared with The Health on the guidelines and online contact lenses sales .
Contact lens online sales guidelines
The MOC was initially against the online selling of contact lenses . Still , the Ministry of Health ( MoH ) recognised the popularity of online shopping among the public and the need to adapt to this new trend .
“ Currently , there are no legal requirements in place to enforce online sales of contact lenses . So , we cannot prohibit people from selling and buying online ,” said Nor Azizah .
“ Health Director-General Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham suggested supporting the online platform by providing guidelines so that the selling of contact lenses can be controlled and monitored .
“ So the MOC has come out with ‘ Guidelines for Online Sale of Optical Appliances and Contact Lenses ’, which is a set of guidelines to guide optometrists and opticians on online selling .”
While the guidelines have no legal impact , Nor Azizah said if they were strictly adhered to by all eye care practitioners , then it would be possible to differentiate whether the online store is by an authorised and certified practitioner .
“ The guidelines state contact lens can only be sold online via a website that uses a local domain as well as local hosting and server and is by a registered practitioner . Contact lenses are not allowed to be sold on any social media or e-commerce platform .
The guidelines also state that the website must only display contact lenses registered with the Medical Device Authority ( MDA ), MoH .
The website must also display the following information : i . Name and business registration number . ii . Full name and address of the premises
( not a PO box address ). iii . Contact phone number and email address . iv . Name and MOC registration number of the optometry practitioner in change of managing the website . v . Product registration number ( MAL ). vi . Include a statement ‘ Please seek the advice of a medical practitioner or optometrist registered if experiencing persistent symptoms or side effects ’. “ If anyone comes across the selling of contact lenses on any social media or e-commerce platform , or websites that fail to follow the above requirements , they will know that this is not by a registered practitioner .”
Online optical stores
There are pros and cons to online optical store , thus it needs to be regulated and monitored , said Nor Azizah .
“ It is undeniable that purchasing contact lenses online is faster and convenient . And of course , during the Covid-19 pandemic , it
Nor Azizah Ismail
A disadvantage of online stores is purchasing contact lenses from unauthorised platforms such as social media and e-commerce sites handled by unregistered individuals .”
MY PD137 helps with social distancing .
“ Consumers can buy contact lens in the comfort of their own homes . But remember to buy the contact lens from a website handled by a registered optometrist and optician .
“ The usual practice should be to purchase replenishment of lenses from the website or online store of the consumer ’ s regular practitioner .
A disadvantage of online stores is purchasing contact lenses from unauthorised platforms such as social media and e-commerce sites handled by unregistered individuals .
“ These individuals will not be able to give the correct advice about contact lens wear , and this will be the biggest threat to the consumer ’ s eyes .
Survey findings showed that most of the cases related to contact lenses were purchased without a prescription online , at night markets or non-optical shops and buyers did not receive advice on lens care and maintenance .
Nor Azizah shared : “ Contact lens-related corneal infection is the most severe complication of contact lens wear for both powered and non-powered cosmetic contact lenses .
“ When I worked in Sungai Buloh Hospital , we used to see people going blind due to inferior contact lenses . And most of them were young adults , students and working-age groups who purchased unprescribed contact lenses online from unregistered platforms .”
The safety aspect
Contact lenses are safe to wear provided consumers follow the following requirements :
• Have regular eye health checks and valid prescriptions from authorised eye care practitioners
• Purchase from authorised eye care practitioners or registered optometry / optical practices , and
• Buy reliable and safe approved contact lenses as recommended by eye care practitioners The requirement is the same for online contact lenses purchasing , although it is limited to replenishment purposes only .
“ There are two types of consumers ; the first timers and the long time users . The group that worries us most is the first timers ,” shared Nor Azizah .
“ The first-time consumers should not be buying contact lenses online to wear as they require a comprehensive eye checkup by an optometry practitioner and have to be taught the correct way of wearing and removing lenses as well as contact lens care .
“ They also need to have an eye check-up once a month after getting the first prescribed contact lens to assess the suitability .
“ And after a subsequent checkup and the consumer is deemed compliant , only then they can they purchase contact lenses for replenishment purposes .”
Nor Azizah added that all contact lens wearers still need to have a yearly checkup with their eye care practitioner
“ The practitioner will examine their eye health status , and determine whether they need to change the power of the contact lens parameter . If so , they will then need a new prescription . “
If the consumer fails to follow the correct process and still chooses to buy the contact lens from unauthorised platforms , it is done at their own risk as they are exposing their eyes to damage and blindness .
Nor Azizah hopes that consumers will be more aware and only purchase contact lenses from reliable and authorised eye care practitioners to ensure their eye health . — The Health