Cosmetic Contact Lenses in the United Kingdom: Assessment of Online Regulation and Quality of Consumer Health Information

Benjamin Ng, Matthew Azzopardi, Alice Ditchfield, Jin Zi, Abison Logeswaran, Imogen Hawthorne, Darren S J Ting, Yu Jeat Chong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVES: To determine the compliance of online vendors to the UK Opticians Act 1989 Section 27 requirements and safety regulations for cosmetic contact lens (CCL) sales and the quality of online CCL health information.

METHODS: The top 50 websites selling CCLs on each three search engines, namely Google, Yahoo, and Bing, were selected. Duplicates were removed, and the remaining websites were systematically analyzed in February 2023. UK legal authorization for CCL sales was assessed using the Opticians Act Section 27 and safety regulations determined by the presence of Conformité Européene (CE) marking. The quality and reliability of online information was graded using the DISCERN (16-80) and JAMA (0-4) scores by two independent reviewers.

RESULTS: Forty-seven eligible websites were analyzed. Only six (12.7%) met the UK legal authorization for CCL sales. Forty-nine different brands of CCLs were sold on these websites, of which 13 (26.5%) had no CE marking. The mean DISCERN and JAMA benchmark scores were 26 ± 12.2 and 1.3 ± 0.6, respectively (intraclass correlation scores: 0.99 for both).

CONCLUSIONS: A significant number of websites provide consumers with easy, unsafe, and unregulated access to CCLs. Most online stores do not meet the requirements set out in the Opticians Act for CCL sales in the United Kingdom. A significant number of CCLs lack CE marking, while the average quality of information on websites selling CCLs is poor. Together, these pose a risk to consumers purchasing CCLs from unregulated websites, and therefore, further stringent regulations on the online sales of these products are needed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEye & contact lens
Early online date13 Mar 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Mar 2024


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