Opinion

View from the GOC: Analysing our contact lens data

GOC
Our research earlier this year into the views and habits of contact lens wearers generated a lot of interest across the optical sector

Our research earlier this year into the views and habits of contact lens wearers generated a lot of interest across the optical sector.

It generated some concerns, too – particularly the gap between many patients’ awareness of good aftercare practice, and their actual compliance with it. From a list of 20 do’s and don’ts there were some concerning findings.

Some 37 per cent of contact lens wearers swim in their lenses without goggles, and 47 per cent shower without keeping their eyes firmly closed. Many of those people were aware they shouldn’t do it, but did not seem to link that warning to the actual risks.

Such poor habits were more prevalent in those who bought online and had less contact with their optometrist or contact lens optician. So as part of our work to improve public protection in the sector, we’ll be raising awareness of the importance of aftercare.

In the future, we hope that this activity will be reinforced by a voluntary code that promotes good practice among online sellers and so helps to ensure contact lens wearers who buy online have regular check-ups and receive good aftercare advice. We consulted on a draft code of practice last year and announced earlier this month that we will return to the development of the code in 2017-18 as we need to focus first on our education strategic review and on legislative reform – but it is still in our plans.

When we restart work on the code of practice, we have decided that based on the evidence (and lack of evidence of direct public harm), it would not be appropriate to include the provisions that would have constrained the substitution of contact lenses. While some are disappointed by this, it reflects the fact that in protecting the public, we are an evidence-based regulator. If we receive new evidence we will consider it carefully.

Alistair Bridge, director of strategy