The College of Optometrists

Contact lens supply

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Sub-sections

Key points

  • You must not supply powered contact lenses without a valid specification.
  • Powered contact lenses may be supplied directly, or under your supervision or general direction.
  • You should not supply zero-powered contact lenses without a current specification.
  • Zero powered contact lenses may be supplied directly, or under your supervision, but not under your general direction.
  • You must make arrangements for a patient whom you supply with contact lenses to receive aftercare as far as and for as long as is reasonable.

Principles of contact lens supply

A324
If you supply a contact lens you should ensure that the lens meets the specification. 
A325
If you supply a contact lens you must make arrangements for the patient to receive aftercare in so far as and for as long as may be reasonable.116 
A326
You must give patients the same degree of care when supplying powered or zero powered (plano) contact lenses.
A327
Contact lenses may be supplied:117, 118
  • directly by a registered optometrist, dispensing optician or doctor, or
  • under their supervision, see paras A336-A337, or
  • for powered lenses only, if the patient is over 16, under the general direction of a registered optometrist, dispensing optician or doctor, see paras A338-A341.
A328
You should be aware of the requirements of the method of supply for which you are responsible.
A329
You must not supply powered contact lenses to a patient who does not have a valid contact lens specification.

References

116 Opticians Act 1989 s27(3B)
117 General Optical Council (2006) Statement on sale and supply of optical appliances [Accessed 27 Oct 2017]
118 Opticians Act 1989 s27(1)(b) and s27(3)(d)

Powered contact lens supply

A330
You should check any details of the contact lens specification that are not clear or complete with the person who issued it. 
A331
You must provide enough information to the patient to enable them to handle the lenses appropriately and to comply with an appropriate lens care system. 
A332
You should not supply the patient with more than the anticipated number of lenses needed until the expiry of the patient’s contact lens specification. 
A333
Since you must not supply powered contact lenses after the patient’s specification has expired you should advise the patient to have a contact lens fitting shortly before the expiry date, and an eye examination, if appropriate. See sections on Contact lens specification and Fitting contact lenses
A334
If you are unable to supply lenses that exactly meet the patient’s specification, and you supply alternative lenses, you are refitting the lenses and the guidance in the section on Fitting contact lenses applies. A lens may be deemed to meet the specification if it is an identical lens made by the same manufacturer but sold under a different name to that stated on the specification. 

Zero powered (plano) contact lens supply

A335
Plano lenses may only be supplied by, or under the supervision of, a registered optometrist, dispensing optician or doctor.119, 120 They may not be supplied under the general direction of these practitioners. 

References

119 Opticians Act 1989 s27(1)(b)
120 General Optical Council (2011) Zero powered contact lenses factsheet [Accessed 27 Oct 2017]

Supervision

A336
If you supervise someone who is supplying the contact lens you must ensure that: 
  1. there are written procedures in place to protect patient health and safety
  2. they have full understanding of your respective roles and responsibilities
  3. they are trained in the procedures to be followed
  4. you are on the premises and can intervene in the supply, if necessary
  5.  you are in a position to exercise your professional skill and judgement as a clinician121 
  6. arrangements are made for the patient to receive aftercare in so far as, and for so long as, may be reasonable,122 and
  7. ensure that the audit trail is sufficient so that any errors that occur are drawn to your attention as the supervising optometrist.
A337
Anyone supplying lenses under your supervision should:  
  1. check that the lenses are for the correct person
  2. check that the specification is current and that the patient is not supplied with lenses that will take them past the expiry date of their specification
  3. check that the lenses that are supplied are those specified in the patient’s contact lens specification
  4. ensure the patient knows which lens is for which eye
  5. ensure the patient is given written information on care solutions and knows how to handle the lenses
  6. reinforce the need for regular contact lens check-ups
  7. ensure adequate records are kept, and 
  8. for zero powered lenses, ensure that the patient is fitted with lenses if the patient has no specification for the zero powered lenses.

See section on Working with colleagues.

References

121 General Optical Council v Vision Direct, 1989
122 Opticians Act 1989 s.27(3B)

General direction

A338
You must have:
  • the original specification
  • a copy of the specification, or
  • a written or electronic order from the patient, which contains the details that are in the specification.
A339
If you do not have the original specification you must verify the details of the specification with the person who issued it.
A340
If you have someone acting under your general direction to supply contact lenses you are not required to be on the premises while the sale takes place, but you should ensure that: 
  1. written protocols and robust procedures are in place for verification and supply and to protect patient health and safety
  2. the patient is not supplied with lenses which will take them past the expiry date of their specification
  3. you are a manager or are in a position of authority to monitor the effectiveness of these protocols and can make amendments to them if required
  4. there is an audit trail that can be followed
  5. the person conducting the supply is appropriately trained and they:
    • have working knowledge of the types of contact lenses available and the different care regimes
    • can ensure that the lenses meet the specification
    • can advise the patient what to do if the patient suffers an adverse incident from the use of lenses or care solutions, and
    • tell the patient about the arrangements that are made for them to receive aftercare, and
  6. the person conducting the supply does not interpret or make judgements in relation to any clinical information in the specification and that they refer such matters to, and seek direction from, a registered optometrist, dispensing optician or doctor.
A341
Anyone supplying lenses under your general direction should:
  1. comply with paras A336-A337
  2. ensure as far as is reasonable that the patient is not sight impaired, severely sight impaired or under 16, and
  3. ensure that any errors that occur are drawn to your attention as the generally directing optometrist.

Aftercare

A342
You must make arrangements for the patient to receive aftercare in so far as and for as long as may be reasonable.116 This applies to all patients for whom you have supplied powered or zero-powered contact lenses whether directly or as a supervising or generally directing optometrist. 
A343
Making arrangements would normally include making practical arrangements for aftercare for the patient with an appropriate provider. If there is a charge for this service you should make it clear to the patient. 
A344
Aftercare arrangements and information should include: 
  1. whom the patient should contact if they have problems associated with the supplied lenses
  2. what signs or symptoms they should look out for
  3. the importance of having regular contact lens check-ups
  4. how to remove the contact lenses in an emergency
  5. having a local contact or helpline for advice, and
  6. monitoring that aftercare arrangements are effective and work for the patient. This would include monitoring that the local contact or helpline is effective and that the emergency provisions are appropriate.

References

116 Opticians Act 1989 s27(3B)

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