Contact lens are a popular eye product, both for correcting visual disorders and cosmetic purposes. South Africa has recently seen a flood of cheap contact lens hitting the market, both prescription lens and colour cosmetic lens. Most of these products are imported from developing countries like China, India and Pakistan and are not always safe to use.
The booming contact lens market has also seen second hand (used) contact lens enter the market. In most cases, these cheap prescription and colour contact lens as well as used lenses are not sold by licensed opticians or optometrists and using these products may be dangerous.
Over-the-counter (OTC) Contact Lens
If you require contact lens to correct your vision or change your eye colour, your optometrist will first test your eyesight or evaluate the curvature of your cornea. The correct contact lens will then be ordered for you. Most opticians or optometrists stock contact lens of different prescription strengths within their consulting rooms. This is for emergency cases and is not the same as buying a pair of cheap contact lens from a store.
These days, cheap contact lens can be found in certain supermarkets, corner stores and gift shops. Some beauty clinics also sell colour contact lens over the counter. These contact lens could be dangerous and should not be purchased or used. Another growing trend in South Africa is the sale of second hand contact lens. This is done through word of mouth, in small advertisements in your local newspaper or through private selling and auction websites. Contact lens should never be shared and it should not be purchased after it has been used by another person.
When an opthamologist or optometrist prescribes or dispenses contact lens, they are doing so after thorough examination of the eye and testing of your vision. The individual curvature of the cornea of the eye means that the contact lens has to be appropriately designed for a comfortable fit. Apart from the discomfort in using incorrectly fitting contact lens, it can also damage the eye.
In South Africa, the manufacture, prescription and dispensing of contact lens is regulated. This ensures that contact lenses are manufactured according to strict standards with appropriate materials that will not affect your eye. With cheap contact lenses which are illegally imported into the country, these standards and quality cannot be guaranteed.
If you require contact lens, whether for correcting your vision or for temporarily changing your eye colour, always consult with an opthamologist or optometrist. Risking your health in order to save money or for a quick cosmetic solution is dangerous and in the event that you pick up an infection, damage your cornea or have an allergic reaction, you may risk your vision in the long term.