By Michael Hutton 

Ortho-k lenses  which are only worn overnight to correct short-sightedness are safer than conventional daytime contact lenses bought online according to the British Contact Lens Association (BCLA). The latter has recently issued a statement about the risks of buying contact lenses online following the reported case of Jacqueline Stone who lost an eye through contracting a fusarium infection which she blames on her contact lenses. Now a second case involving June Stone, a UK pensioner has been reported and again the cause of the infection is claimed to be the contact lenses which she bought online. Given current estimates that around one-fifth of contact lenses are purchased online given typically much low costs, the suggestion that this entails greater risks than buying lenses through an optician is a major cause for concern.

The BCLA has repeatedly drawn attention to the fact that many online contact lenses retailers who operate beyond the UK's regulatory control rely on the purchaser to confirm his or her prescription rather than require that they provide proof that their current prescription is still valid. Sadly, with online savings sometimes as high as 50% compared to High Street opticians, many contact lens users have stopped visiting their opticians without realising the importance of having regular eye health checks as well as being certain that the lenses provided through the optician meet all stringent quality standards. With ortho-k lenses , these can only be provided through a qualified optician who not only supervises the design and fitting of these bespoke lenses but also oversees the patient's continuing care to ensure eye health and vision are continually optimised.

The BCLA have pointed out that research has identified online contact lens purchasers as being almost five times more likely to suffer a bacterial infection in their eye than people who continue to source their contact lenses through an optician. Usually the majority of such infections - if diagnosed early - can be treated successfully with topical medications and no lasting damage is caused. Occasionally however, a more severe infection - like fusarium - can be encountered where the consequent risk of permanent sight loss is much greater. For ortho-k lenses, wearers are safe in the knowledge that replacement sets of their high quality lenses are only dispensed through their optician and require that the patient has his or her eyes checked first. So not only do ortho-k lens  wearers enjoy all the vision benefits of laser surgery - but without the surgery, they also benefit from knowing their eye health is continually being monitored.

Check if you are suitable for overnight ortho-k corrective contact lenses .

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