The General Optical Council (GOC) has today published research highlighting the importance of ensuring patients understand that contact lenses are a healthcare product and that they receive clear aftercare advice.
The independent survey to better understand the views and habits of over 2,000 contact lens wearers highlighted that only 43 per cent of contact lens wearers saw them as a healthcare product, with just as many viewing them as a lifestyle product and 12 per cent seeing them as a cosmetic product.
GOC director of strategy Alistair Bridge said, “The research reinforces the need for coordinated activity across the sector to ensure the public understands that contact lenses are a healthcare product and require diligent care. We want patients to receive and follow appropriate advice from their optician to ensure they are wearing their lenses safely and protecting their eyes.”
Only 48 per cent of patients could recall receiving aftercare advice at their most recent contact lens check-up. Those who have been wearing contact lenses for a long time were least likely to report receiving aftercare.
The research also tested patient awareness and compliance with good practice in looking after contact lenses, measuring how many people were aware of, and follow, a series of ‘dos and don’ts’ in relation to contact lens care.
Of the respondents, 77 per cent reported most frequently buying in-store compared with 21 per cent who most often bought online and two per cent from other sources. However many people have bought from a mix of the two. 42 per cent of those who bought online did so from a website linked with a high street optician, with 35 per cent buying from an online-only store (the remainder did not know).
Alistair Bridge added: “We are committed to working with practitioners, businesses, manufacturers, professional bodies and patient representatives to raise awareness of the need for contact lens wearers to follow aftercare advice and have regular check-ups and eye examinations, regardless of whether they buy online or in-store. It is also important that registrants remember the need to provide aftercare advice to their patients, especially those who may have worn lenses for a long time and might have slipped into bad habits.”