INTERNET RX EYEWEAR COMPLIANCE

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If you’ve been following the evolution of eyewear being sold on the Internet, you know the subject continues to spark heated debate whenever it comes up. Whatever your slant on it might be, it’s clear these online sales are here to stay.

Researchers at the Pacific University College of Optometry recently investigated how well prescription eyewear being sold on the Internet from online vendors and delivered directly to the public complied with optical tolerances and impact-resistant requirements for eyewear dispensed in the U.S. The results may surprise you.
Ten people ordered two pairs of prescription eyeglasses from ”… 10 of the most visited Internet vendors” for a total of 200 pairs. The eyewear ordered consisted of differing lens and frame materials, lens designs and options (like photochromic, anti-reflective, and scratch-resistant treatments), and refractive conditions so they reflected U.S. distributions.
Of the 154 pairs received from the Internet eyewear sellers, 28.6% of spectacles had at least one lens fail tolerance standards for at least one optical parameter, and in 22.7% of spectacles, at least one lens failed impact testing. Overall, 44.8% of spectacles failed at least one parameter of optical or impact testing. The study went on to say that a number of the eyeglasses received were incorrect. For example, lens options ordered (like photochromic) were omitted and eyewear ordered as single vision was supplied as bifocals. Only one online vendor wanted to verify the prescription before filling it.
What did the researchers conclude? “Nearly half of prescription spectacles delivered directly by online vendors did not meet either the optical requirements of the patient’s visual needs or the physical requirements for the patient’s safety.” They also stated, “We believe that the dispensing process remains a vital and necessary step in the manufacture and delivery of eyewear to best ensure the health and safety of patients who wear spectacles.”
The study indicates how difficult it is at this time to get Internet eyewear sellers to follow industry standards as many of them are in other countries and are therefore not subject to U.S. laws or regulations. We have a lot of work to do in order to get sellers of prescription eyewear on the Internet to pay a bit more attention to U.S. industry standards.
After decades of working hard to develop eyewear quality standards, do we, as a profession, want this kind of eyewear provided to the American public? It’s easy to cast a shadow on all Internet eyewear sellers because of these study results. The fact is some do a very good job. The industry’s focus needs to be on the ones that are working outside the margins.
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