Eye Health

04 December 2008

Coloured contact lens scare

Beware of coloured contact lenses obtained from unregistered sellers, warns the Health Professions Council of South Africa.

Beware of coloured contact lenses obtained from unregistered sellers, the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) warned on Tuesday.

"A poor-fitting lens can result in numerous contact lens complications," warned the Professional Board for Optometry and Dispensing Opticians, which falls under HPCSA.

Chairwoman Vanessa Moodley said such complications were often not easily noticed by the person wearing lenses until the condition was very advanced.

The sale of contact lenses by unqualified people was becoming more common, she said.

Contact lenses are medical devices
"As contact lenses are medical devices, registered optometrists and ophthalmologists are the only people allowed to dispense and sell them, and patients must not purchase them from any other person.

The HPSCA said vendors were distributing coloured lenses as "mere cosmetic devices" and encouraging dangerous practices such as over-wearing or the swopping of lenses.

"Swopping of lenses poses a danger of transmitting viruses or bacteria," Moodley said.

Many can’t wear lenses
As contact lenses were not suitable for use by many individuals, a practitioner has to conduct various tests and take measurements to determine if a patient is suitable.

However, this was not the case if one dealt with an unregistered person, said Moodley.

The HPCSA urged anyone who had purchased lenses from an unregistered or unqualified person to report the illegal activity to the HPCSA or to the police. – (Sapa)

Read more:
Your questions about contact lenses answered
Eye Centre


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Megan Goodman qualified as an optometrist from the University of Johannesburg and is currently practising at Tygerberg Academic Hospital in Cape Town. She has recently completed a Masters degree in Clinical Epidemiology at Stellenbosch University. She has a keen interest in ocular pathology and evidence based medicine as well as contact lenses.

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