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Contact Lenses

Volume 410: debated on Friday 19 September 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what action he is taking to warn children of the dangers associated with swapping contact lenses;[128137](2) what assessment he has made of the General Optical Council proposals to restrict sale of contact lenses to registered opticians and doctors;[128138](3) what action he is taking to encourage contact lens users to seek proper advice before purchase and to attend regular check-ups thereafter;[128139]

(4) what action he is taking to (a) encourage and (b) compel organisations that sell non-prescription contact lenses to (i) advise purchasers of their suitability for lenses and (ii) provide them with adequate information on care and hygiene; [128140]

(5) what assessment he has made of the link between (a) microbial keratitis, (b) acanthamoeba, (c) poor colour perception, (d) reduced binocular vision and (e) damage to the surface of the cornea and the use of non-prescription contact lenses; [128148]

(6) what action he is taking to ensure that the sale of non-prescription contact lenses is effectively monitored; [128151]

(7) what assessment he has made of the long-term effects on eye health of using non-prescription contact lenses; [128152]

(8) what plans he has to reclassify contact lenses as medical devices. [128153]

We plan to regulate the sale of non-prescription cosmetic contact lenses to ensure that outlets selling them have professional optical supervisory arrangements to ensure that advice is available to purchasers, whether adults or children, on use of these lenses. A public consultation is due to take place this year as part of the parliamentary process. Detailed rules for the professional optical supervisory arrangements will be developed to implement the regulations.Although the Department has made no specific assessment of the links between certain eye conditions and the use of non-prescription contact lenses, it is widely recognised that prescription contact lens wearers are more at risk of eye infections if they over-wear their lenses, adopt poor hygiene or smoke. It is reasonable to assume that similar risks apply to people wearing nonprescription lenses and that the lack of professionally supervised advice may put them at greater risk.For prescription contact lenses, the Contact Lens Rules 1988 require that they be provided by General Optical Council registered opticians who also provide the necessary instruction and information to the person fitted on the care, wearing, treatment, cleaning and maintenance of such lenses and also provide the clinical management and adjustment of the fitting of the lenses for a period of six months from the date of first fitting.Powered contact lenses are classified as medical devices but plano lenses have no corrective function or medical purpose and are not considered to be a medical device. There are no plans to reclassify them as such.