We all know about the convenience of online shopping. But we’ve also all heard those horror stories of people who believed they were getting a steal of a deal when, in fact, they were being robbed. That’s one thing if you’re buying a book or board game. Prescription eyewear is a whole other story.
As the College of Opticians of Ontario (COO) says, “When you purchase prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses, you are more than a consumer — you are a patient.”
When it comes to healthcare and patient therapies, there is always an element of risk for the patient. That’s why we have a great deal of regulation here in Ontario. All those laws can seem cumbersome but they protect us. The regulations are an attempt to reduce risk.
And protection is why buying prescription eyewear in Ontario from anyone who is not a licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist or optician is illegal. That includes online purchases.
On COO’s website, they list just a few of the reasons why:
- The vendors may not be licensed to sell you what is functionally a therapy prescribed by a healthcare professional
- Related to the above, glasses are regulated by Health Canada. There’s no guarantee your online purchase meets the regulator’s stipulated requirements
- Glasses and contacts need to be fitted to the individual in person, anatomically and, yes, individually! At the risk of sounding obvious, fitting you is impossible online
- Relating to the above, glasses and contacts that don’t fit can cause nausea, headaches and worse. (Remember the point about protection?)
- There’s a risk you may be buying a product that’s expired or has been stored in the wrong conditions (too cold or hot) — or one that’s been recalled due to quality issues. The regulations exist to reduce risks to patients.
Our brains rely on sight more than any other sense to guide us through our busy days. Put simply, your eyes are too important to risk with cheap online prescriptions. Rather than throwing you into the deep with the warning “Buyer beware”, here in Ontario, it’s “Buyer buy here!”