Abby's Guide to Contact Lenses
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What happens next?



You prefer online shopping. You've got the up to date prescription and are ready to make an online purchase. There are a few things that make this transaction a little different than the "walk into the retail space" purchase.

The lens seller should ask you for the name and number of your prescribing doctor, being required by law to contact the doctor by phone, fax or email, to validate the prescription. The seller provides that doctor with your name and address, prescription specifics, how many lenses are being ordered, the date you ordered the lenses, and the seller's contact information like phone number and fax. The prescribing ECP then has eight business hours to communicate with the seller that the prescription is accurate, or if inaccurate, the correct information. If they do not, the seller then assumes it is correct and can legally supply you the lenses.

The prescription is then fulfilled. But there are some practices that may or may not benefit you. It is the law that a seller has to sell you the brand specified by the ECP, as there is the assumption that this is the best brand for your particular eye and vision issue. They cannot switch to some other brand they have on hand or one that is cheaper for them to purchase. However, lens manufacturers have a number of private labels for the exact same lens. For instance they may call a lens one name for their large optical chain outlet and although the same lens as prescribed, it may go under a different brand name. Ask your seller if this is applicable to your prescription and see if they have a guide that will clarify this for you.

Whether you have purchased lenses online or via the phone or gone to your mall for a lens pickup, once the lenses arrive check the information on the box with the prescription. There is a ton of room for error and you do not want to suffer for someone else's mistake. Don't be afraid to ask your vendor or doctor if the numbers and names don't match up with what you ordered.

For first time wearers, remember you need to have your contacts fitted by your ECP. If, after wearing them for awhile, you end up having some problems contact your ECP for advice as well as reporting to the FDA's MedWatch system (www.fda.gov/medwatch). Not happy with the online supplier? Then go to webcomplaints@ora.fda.gov and let them know the specific issues.



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