*We’re partnering with the American Optometric Association to educate people on the importance of regular comprehensive eye exams and correct contact lens care. Because the eyes are the windows to the body and we want yours to be healthy!
Funny story—actually it’s kind of scary and very, very stupid. When I was just a young, impressionable, 20-something year old, my friend and I got a wild hair to go live in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for the summer. It was exhilarating and carefree and one of the greatest times of my life. However, we did a few crazy things while we were parentless on the other side of the country. My mom will be learning a few of them for the first time in this post (sorry mom!). During that summer of ’02 we patronized our very first Piggly Wiggly (cool), joined a Harley Davidson bike rally (very cool), and we thought it would be like, so awesome to buy colored contact lenses from a street vendor (totally not cool). About a week later, my new blue contacts not only hurt my brown eyes, but they ended up giving me a serious eye infection. Gross! The moral of the story—never buy contacts from a sketchy third party.
Since that summer, I’ve grown thankfully more mature in my decisions. Now I always wear a helmet when I ride a high-powered motorcycle and I always, always consult a doctor of optometry for all my eye care needs.
Seeing an Optometrist for a Regular, Comprehensive Eye Exam and Contact Lens Prescription
If you wear contacts (over 40 million people in the United States do), then you’ve probably seen or heard of online contact lens companies that promise convenience and low prices. These retailers can sometimes be exactly what they appear: too good to be true. In fact, a reporter recently conducted an investigation on a direct-to-consumer contact lens brand and what she found is pretty alarming. “Contact lens startup…sold lenses with a fake prescription from a made-up doctor.” (Source: Quartz)
Fake prescriptions…made-up doctor…that’s scary stuff!
To avoid serious health risks, you should first, do your research and second, always visit an optometrist on a regular basis for the best and safest outcome. The American Optometric Association is working hard to educate people everywhere about safe use and care of contact lenses to help avoid serious risk and harm.
3 Reasons To Visit an Optometrist
1. They are a trusted source for a correct contact lens prescription.
Contact lenses are among the most popular forms of vision correction, but the truth is that they are medical devices and therefore require a valid prescription from an eye doctor. An optometrist (O.D.) is a primary eye health provider that is devoted to giving you the right eye care, the right prescription, and the right contact lens brand/fit for your needs. Online retailers may offer convenience, but convenience should not be put ahead of a patient’s health.
2. Your optometrist checks for way more than just your vision.
In addition to testing your vision and giving you an accurate contact lens fit and prescription, your optometrist will give you a comprehensive eye exam that looks for way more than you think. Did you know the eye acts as a window to your health? Through your eyes, an optometrist can detect signs of health issues including diabetes, hypertension, or even some cancers without cutting into the body or taking a CT scan.
An optometrist can look for eye diseases (like glaucoma), systemic diseases (like diabetes), neurological issues (like brain tumors or MS), peripheral vision issues, colorblindness, and other eye and overall health issues. Now that’s pretty cool!
3. Not all third party vendors are reliable.
Unfortunately, like stated above, not all online retailers put patient health first. They might offer convenience, but beware of deceptions. Something scary all patients should know: some online retailers may replace your usual prescription contact lens with a different one, without even alerting you! Not cool. Having your contacts mailed to you might be convenient, but do your research. And make sure to schedule a visit with an optometrist and consult with them on the best options. Don’t have one yet? Use the AOA’s awesome doctor locator tool to find an optometrist in your area!
Doing the Right Thing
Some lessons you learn the hard way, like getting a terrible eye infection because of some sketchy contacts you bought from a vendor you didn’t know. That was a tough lesson to learn. According to the American Optometric Association’s 2017 Eye-Q Survey®, two in five Americans who have ordered contact lenses online have done so with an outdated/expired prescription and/or had their brand switched. That is no bueno.
If you’ve never visited an optometrist, find one now and schedule regular comprehensive eye exams. An in-person, comprehensive eye exam can tell you about your eye health, and even interesting things about your overall health beyond the eyes! And if it’s been awhile since you visited your optometrist, schedule an appointment today. The AOA recommends that patients wearing contact lenses should get an in-person, comprehensive eye exam annually.
Do the right thing for you, and for your family. Do your research whenever you purchase contact lenses and see your optometrist for a regular comprehensive eye exam—it offers a lot of peace of mind from a trusted eye doctor who cares.
Some tools to help you learn more!
Find your doctor of optometry with the AOA’s doctor locator
More info about contact lenses on AOA.org
Photography by Kara Jo Eaton
*This post was sponsored by the American Optometric Association. All opinions and stories are my own.