The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint about several posts appearing in 2018 on the Instagram page of Marnie Simpson, a reality television personality, promoting iSpyEyes cosmetic contact lenses.
The complainant, who understood the products being promoted were zero-powered contact lenses, which could only be supplied under the supervision of a registered optometrist, dispensing optician or medical practitioner, challenged whether the ads misleadingly implied that the products could legally be sold by the advertiser in the UK.
The ASA concluded: “Because the ads implied the sale of zero-powered contact lenses by the advertiser was legal, and because the ads encouraged an unsafe practice, we concluded they were in breach of our Code.”
The ASA ruled that the ads must not appear again the form complained of.
“We told iSpyEyes 1964262 and Marnie Simpson not to encourage an unsafe practice or to imply that they could legally sell zero powered contact lenses in the UK,” the Authority added.
The General Optical Council (GOC) said it welcomed the ruling. It helped the ASA in investigating the case – informing iSpyEyes and Marnie Simpson not to encourage an unsafe practice or to imply that they could legally sell zero powered contact lenses in the UK. It said that although the website in question was based in the British Virgin Islands, the ASA considered that the adverts were directed at UK customers.
Dionne Spence, GOC director of casework and resolutions, said: “Cosmetic contact lenses can be popular for fashion and fancy dress, particularly at times such as Halloween. However customers who buy and wear them without getting professional advice are risking damage to their eyes. We are glad that the ASA have taken action against these adverts. We helped them on the case and we are currently exploring further ways of working with the ASA to help tackle illegal online sales. It is vital that we work with partner organisations in respect of illegal sales and we also continue to work with Trading Standards and the optical professional bodies.”
For advice on how to buy contact lenses safely, including zero-powered lenses, consumers can visit www.loveyourlenses.com