Can I Get Contact Lenses Without a Prescription?

Obtaining contact lenses without a valid prescription might seem tempting, especially if your current prescription has expired. However, having an up-to-date prescription from a licensed eye doctor is extremely important for your vision and eye health.

This prescription should only be issued after a comprehensive eye health exam and contact lens fitting. Wearing contact lenses with an outdated prescription is dangerous and can lead to several risks and complications.

Why Do I Need a Contact Lens Prescription?

Here’s a few reasons why getting an up-to-date prescription for contact lenses is important:

Contact Lenses are Medical Devices

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies contact lenses as medical devices. Like all medical devices, contacts require a valid prescription from a licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist to ensure an accurate fit and vision correction.

Your eye doctor will make sure that your contacts fit correctly and provide detailed instructions for care and use to prevent potential infection and damage. Improperly fitting contact lenses can lead to eye infections or damage to the cornea, causing vision problems or in extreme cases, blindness.

Contact Lens Rule

The sale of contact lenses is regulated by the FDA and Federal Trade Commission (FTC.)  The FDA oversees the manufacturing, effectiveness, and safety of contact lenses, while the FTC regulates the sale of contacts.

In 2004, the FTC passed the Contact Lens Rule to outline the Act’s requirements. As per the Act, contact lens sellers, both physical and online, are legally bound to sell contact lenses only to customers with a valid prescription written by a licensed ophthalmologist or optometrist.

Additionally, the valid prescription should be presented to sellers directly or verified by the prescribing eye doctor. Contact lens sellers should verify the order by contacting the prescriber before filling it.

Contact lenses sold to buyers without a prescription or with an expired one are illegal, and the seller could be fined. The Act further prohibits non-optical outlets from selling contact lenses.

So, you should never buy contacts from unauthorized online retailers, beauty shops, and convenience stores. This is both illegal and dangerous for your health.

You may unsuspectingly purchase unregulated contact lenses from unscrupulous manufacturers. Using such lenses could jeopardize your vision and eye health.

Why is it Important to Get a Contact Lens Prescription Every Year?

Every eye is unique, and not all contact lenses are equal. As a result, an outdated or inaccurate prescription can cause or worsen eye problems like discomfort and infections.

If you wear incorrect lenses, they can cause blurred vision, eye strain, and headaches. A contact lens prescription includes a comprehensive eye health exam and an evaluation of the vision correction required for each eye.

During the exam, your eye doctor will assess the corneal curvature, shape, and size of your eyes. They’ll also ensure the lenses are ideal for your lifestyle and vision needs.

For instance, if you have dry eyes, your eye doctor may recommend a specific brand or type of contact lens. Certain types allow oxygen to pass through and help retain moisture in the eye for enhanced comfort and clear vision.

Specifying the contact lens type and brand guarantees that the fit and material of the lenses are ideal for your specific vision and eye health needs.  With an up-to-date prescription, you can get the proper fit for maximum eye comfort and optimal visual acuity.

Do you need to update your contact lens prescription? Schedule an appointment at VisionPoint Eye Center in Bloomington, IL, today.

Our ophthalmologists are the first and only surgeons in central Illinois implanting the LAL (the first and only adjustable lens that allows you to truly customize your vision after cataract surgery!)

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