The College of Optometrists

Patients buying lenses elsewhere

Patients may buy their contact lenses from any supplier, as long as the sale is by, or under the supervision of (for powered or zero-powered lenses) or general direction of (for powered lenses), a registered optometrist, dispensing optician or doctor.
You should make your patients aware that if lenses only are supplied, this may not include contact lens check-ups, although the supplier must make arrangements for the patient to receive aftercare in so far as and for as long as may be reasonable.115  If your patient buys their lenses from abroad the supplier will not have this obligation towards the patient. If you are aware of this, you should warn the patient that they must seek professional advice if they have problems and they will probably be charged a fee for this advice.
If you are a College member you may wish to use the following statement on your contact lens specification or as part of a practice notice to alert your patients to the importance of having regular check-ups. 

'As someone who wears contact lenses you need continuing professional care to make sure your lenses are right for your eyes, now and in the future. It is most important that you ensure that you have regular check-ups and understand what to do in the event of anything going wrong with your eyes or your lenses. 

You should be clear whether the amount you pay includes extra consultations if you have any problems and how much they will cost if they are not included.'
As the fitting practitioner, you may be asked by a supplier of contact lenses to verify the particulars of the patient’s specification. You should ask the supplier to state in writing the details they require: this can be by fax or email if the patient consents. You should keep a record of these requests and if you have concerns about the number of verification requests you should alert the supplier. See sections on Consent and Patient records with reference to transferring patient information to a third party. 
If a supplier contacts you to verify a specification and all the details are correct, you may answer ‘yes’ but say no more without the patient’s consent. If any of the details are incorrect, you need the patient’s consent to give any information to the supplier. 


115 Opticians Act 1989 s27(3B)

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