Buying Contacts Online? 7 Things You Should Know

You may think because you have perfect 20/20 vision that you can just buy colored contact anywhere, right? Wrong! Colored contact lenses are not just a make up accessory like false lashes

and can permanently damage your eye if bought or used improperly

1. It is illegal to buy contact lenses (yes, even colored ones) without a prescription in the U.S.

You know those website offering to sell you colored lenses, circle lenses, or Halloween lenses without a prescription? Look closely, most of those sites are based in another country. It is actually illegal for those sites to operate in the U.S. and you could report them to the FDA.

2. Contact lenses are an FDA approved medical device

They are not the same as false lashes, so don’t buy them from your make-up store! They are actually medical devices which get inserted into your eye. So, you should treat them as such! Because of that, you need to see your eye doctor to get a prescription for contact lenses, even the colored and cosmetic ones. EVEN if you don’t need glasses or contacts to see. Why is that???

3. Contact lenses have different shapes

Did you know that not all contact lenses are created equal? There are different sizes of contact lenses to fit the different types of eyes. A contact lens that is too tight can cause deprivation of blood flow and oxygen to the eye. One that is too loose, will feel extremely uncomfortable and may even get stuck underneath you eyelid. When you go to see your ophthalmologist or optometrist, she or he will take different measurements of the front of your eye and determine which base curve of contact lens best fits your eye. Then they will try them on you in the office and observe the movement and fit. Don’t skip this crucial step by trying to buy contacts online without a prescription

4. You need to learn how to insert, remove and properly care for your contacts (yes, even colored ones)

Lenses that aren’t cleaned properly risk an eye infection. Removing your contacts incorrectly can cause a scratch on your cornea, which can lead to an infection (I know, because this happened to me). Did you know that you have to clean your contacts at least every 3 days even if they’re just sitting in solution? I didn’t! These are all things to discuss with your eye doctor, which is why you want to see them before purchasing contact lenses.

5. Different brands of contact lenses have different disposal times

First, make sure to never sleep in your contacts. There are some rare exceptions to this rule, such as extended wear contacts that are “Night and Day” or if you are undergoing an orthokeratology treatment plan with your eye doctor. Otherwise, some lenses are daily lenses, some are biweekly, and some are monthly. These wearing schedules need to be reviewed and adhered to. Extending the duration of your contacts can be dangerous to your eyes! Meaning, you shouldn’t extend the replacement time for your contacts – don’t wear your 2 week lenses for an extra week, or your monthly lenses for 2 months. That can be a set up for some pretty serious side effects. Infections, abnormal blood vessel growth and even inability to wear your contacts are all risks of overbearing your contacts.

Daily contact lenses are made from different materials than weekly or monthly lenses. Each type of lens has a different thickness and durability. Daily lenses tend to be very thin and wearing them an additional day can cause them to tear, scratching your eye. Monthly lenses are much thicker, and therefore have a higher chance of causing complications. Calcium and protein deposits accumulate on the surface of the lens which can block your vision and irritate your eyes. The thickness also makes it more likely that a monthly lens worn past its recommended time can prevent adequate oxygen and lubrication to the front surface of your eye!

6. Purchase from a reputable online source

You know how there are sites which sell repackaged shampoo or fake designer bags. Did you know that the same exists with contacts? Make sure to go to a reputable site online. Some sites have repackaged lenses, have given the wrong lens or even counterfeit lenses. Some have even switched to a different/lower quality version of the one your doctor prescribed. If you purchase online vs through your eye doctor, you will need to be diligent in checking brand, manufacturer, power, base curve and expiration dates of the boxes you receive.

7. See an eye doctor for redness, swelling, discharge, pain, or discomfort

This could be signs of a serious corneal infection, which can be potentially blinding. Seek medical attention immediately!

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Dr. Rupa Wong


Hi! I'm Dr. Rupa Wong. Physician. Private Practice Owner. Mama to 3 kids. Managing Partner. Educator. Textbook Author. Conference Co-Founder. Mentor. I am more than just one thing, even as a doctor and I bet you are too. I would love to help you envision the life you want, and then get after it. What are you waiting for?

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