It is often quite tempting to order contact lenses over the internet. It’s easy and convenient. But is it safe for your eyes? Is it any different from ordering your contact lenses in person at your local optometrist? Are there any price differences? This all depends on your contact lens prescription, how recent were your contact lens fitting appointment and the type and brand of the contact lenses that were recommended.
Your Fitting Appointment
For you to purchase contact lenses in Australia, you need a valid contact lens prescription. Your local optometrist would determine which modality (e.g. dailies, fortnightlies or monthlies) and which type of lens material (the brand of contact lens often determines this). This is to ensure the contact lenses you are prescribed are comfortable and providing you with an adequate vision for your requirements. Ill-fitted contact lenses, for example, contact lenses fitting too tight or too loose, affects the comfort of contact lens wear and can potentially increase the risk of contact lens-related eye diseases.
For a typical contact lens wear, the fitting of the contact lenses is often reviewed annually to ensure optimal comfort and vision. This is one of the reasons why at Capital Eye we don’t supply contact lenses with an expired prescription. This is not to complicate the process, but it is necessary to protect your eyes from potentially wearing ill-fitted contact lenses.
Common Contact Lens Brands
Different brands such as Coopervision, Alcon, Johnson and Johnson all have different materials and parameters. As a result, a certain brand of contact lenses may fit you better, providing you with more comfort and clear vision compared with other brands. Depending on your contact lens wearing schedule, your optometrist may also suggest different types within a specific contact lens brand to accommodate this. For example, a contact lens brand Coopervision produces daily disposable contact lenses; Proclear and MyDay series. A MyDay contact lens is a different material compared to the Proclear series as it allows a lot more oxygen permeability. Because the materials are different, the comfort of these lenses on the eye may vary. Therefore, your optometrist must check the fitting to ensure the lenses are suitable for your wear.
In large optical corporate chains, common contact lens brand is often rebranded to their house product. This is to ensure their customers purchase their contact lens product. By rebranding, the consumer can no longer compare prices online and invites the retailer to mark-up their product. It is easy to check if the lenses you’re fitted with is rebranded as it’s often not available anywhere else. Most reputable optometry practices which routinely supply contact lenses can quickly identify these lenses.
At Capital Eye, we have made a decision not to stock our “own brand” contact lenses. We believe our patients and customers deserve the transparency of lenses they are fitted with and to ensure they understand why a particular contact lens is suggested.
Cost of Ordering Contact Lenses with Your Optometrist vs Online
It is always cheaper to order your contact lenses online. No questions about that. Just like most things you could buy at a retail shop, you can pretty much guarantee you can get a lower price for the same item found online. The reason behind this is obvious as the overheads of having a shop front are reduced. Buying everyday household items may not make much difference, whether it is purchased online or in-store if it isn’t urgent.
Contact lenses are considered a medical product, and it needs to be handled with care when transporting and shipping. The storage solution with the contact lens is often sensitive to temperature changes. If the contact lens is sitting in transit outside its temperature range, it can affect the integrity of the contact lens. Occasionally, you may notice a few of the lenses “break” or “split” when you use them. This can throw you out of your contact lens wear schedule, especially if your prescription between your right and left eye are different.
Shipping of your contact lens order in our optometry practice in Canberra is in real-time. Which means we contact the suppliers directly, and often the orders are dispatched the same day. Quite often you’ll receive your contact lenses the following day if the order is received before 2.00 PM. Contact lenses are delivered in heat-resistant packaging and adequately stored until pick-up. They won’t be sitting at your local post-office warehouse or your front door; sitting there for hours waiting for you to pick up after work. It is often faster to have your contact lens ordered through the practice should you need them in a hurry.
In the unlikely event that your contact lenses started to “split” or, you’ve accidentally dropped and lost them while putting them on; we can replace the lens for you free of charge. If you have a health fund, we offer on-the-spot claiming, saving you the need to claim this yourself manually.
Quite often, patients do not qualify for any Medicare rebate for contact lens fitting. Optometrists often incorporate this as a part of their routine eye examination should you wish to update your contact lens prescription on the same appointment. We have to be vigilant with “free contact lens consultation,” as money needed to be made elsewhere, often through supplying in-house branded contact lenses.
The Bottom Line
Ordering your lenses through a reputable optometry practice has its advantages. This ensures the stringent standards of supply and the delivery of your contact lenses are followed. It is often faster to have your order through your local optometrist as it is dispatched the same day through a specialised optical distribution network. The contact lenses may cost you a few dollars more, but that compensates your optometrist for checking the suitability of your lenses. The contact lens fitting appointment also provides an opportunity for you to explore and enquire about the latest technology in contact lens development.