5 reasons you should never buy contacts from unauthorized retailers
The eCommerce boom over the past few years has streamlined the online selling process for retailers. Unfortunately, it’s also allowed illegitimate sellers to gain easy access to the marketplace.
And while the proliferation of unauthorized retailers has negative consequences for every industry, it poses unique risks when it comes to buying contact lenses.
While it’s easy to be persuaded by discount prices for brand-name lenses, there are a number of serious hazards that come from buying your contracts from unauthorized resellers.
1) The authenticity and quality of their products can’t be verified
Purchasing contact lenses from an authorized retailer means that your lenses must undergo strict materials inspection, performance testing, and packaging inspection.
Unauthorized retailers obtain their stock in many different ways. They may buy them overseas, where prices are lower, and then import them to North America as gray market goods. They may buy them in clearance sales or returns from authorized dealers. They may also be stolen from the brand owner’s distribution channel.
In all cases, It’s impossible to verify the authenticity and quality and grey market contact lenses, which could be damaged, expired or fail to meet North American safety standards.
2) Counterfeit lenses can cause eye damage
When it comes to your eyes, you don’t want to take any chances purchasing counterfeit contact lenses that could have serious consequences for your vision and eye health.
Eye damage from counterfeit and poorly manufactured or contaminated contact lenses can include:
- Corneal scratches
- Vision loss
- Eye abrasion and irritation
- Bacterial Infections
- Corneal ulcers
- Alteration of the tear film
It’s clear that the short and long-term impact of eye damage from counterfeit contact lenses isn’t worth the discounted price.
3) They don’t offer products from the four leading contact lens manufacturers
One potential sign of a grey market seller is that they may not sell products from the four primary contact lens manufacturers: Acuvue (Johnson & Johnson), Alcon (Air Optix, Dailies, Precision 1, Freshlook, and others.), CooperVision (Biofinity and others) and Bausch + Lomb (Ultra, Biotrue and others). This is because these unauthorized resellers do not have a legal distribution agreement with these manufacturers and are therefore sourcing their products from illegitimate sources.
However, there are cases where a reseller offers all four big name brands and also offers grey market products. That’s why it’s important to check that they are an authorized retailer for the brand you’re looking for.
You’ll want to buy from a retailer that is legally able to offer the full breadth of contact lenses on the market, in case your prescription changes and you need to switch manufacturers or brands.
4) They don’t require a prescription to purchase contact lenses
Because unauthorized retailers aren’t sourcing their products legally, they aren’t following the legal requirements when they sell their products either. This means they likely won’t require a valid prescription to purchase your contact lenses.
[Read our blog: Why you need a prescription for contact lenses]
Contact lenses are considered a medical device, which means all authorized retailers are required by federal law to have a valid, unexpired contact lens prescription on record for all orders placed by U.S. residents.
Having a valid prescription is critical for your eye health and helps ensure the contracts you’re buying are specific to your eyes.
5) They don’t offer any consumer protection or support
Most unauthorized dealers run their operations with minimal overhead. That means no customer support if you have questions or concerns about your purchase. It also means they usually won’t offer returns or have any kind of refund policy. As a consumer, this puts you at risk if there’s an issue with your order or if you’re sent the wrong contact lenses by mistake and could cost you a lot of money if you’re buying months’ worth of contact lenses at a time.
What to look for in an authorized contact lens retailer
Authorized retailers who are official distributors for the four leading manufacturers will indicate this prominently on their website - usually somewhere highly visible, like the header of their website or as a graphic badge. If you want to be doubly sure they’re legitimate, you can call the manufacturers directly to verify the retailer’s distributor status:
- Acuvue (Johnson & Johnson, Inc.): 1-855-345-0032
- Alcon: 1-800-268-4574
- Bausch & Lomb: 1-888-459-5000
- CooperVision: 1-855-526-6737
Authorized retailers will also have a clearly listed customer support phone number, as well as a defined return and refund policy, displayed on their websites.
VisionPros is proud to be an authorized reseller in the United States and Canada for all four leading contact lens manufacturers. If you have any further questions, please contact our customer service team at 1-800-404-7317 or email email@example.com.