The Singapore Optometric Association, an industry body of optometrists, said it had raised concerns to the board over the growing trend of consumers purchasing spectacles and contact lenses online.
These carry risks such as the absence of appropriate eye exams and reviews, and the lack of after-sales care, said one of the association’s councillors, Ms Chui Wen Juan.
A comprehensive eye exam can determine if visual and eye health problems exist due to refractive error – blurred vision due to light not being focused correctly on the eye – or because of eye disease or developmental issues, said Ms Chui.
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Retailers said the guidelines may not be practical. “Some optometrists might not be too keen to issue patients with their prescriptions, especially if they know the patients are going to make their spectacles with other companies,” said Mr Edwin Tay, business manager of Mimeo The Optical Shop.
Online optical shops may also have difficulties validating the authenticity and accuracy of the prescription provided by the patients, he said. “At the moment, information sharing among different optical shops may not be liberal due to business interests,” he added.
Optical chain Owndays, which does not sell spectacles online, said it is exploring how it can do so while keeping to the guidelines.
“The guidelines help to uphold the standard and professionalism of the optical industry,” said its managing director, Mr Umiyama Takeshi.
A report by Euromonitor International found that last year, only 2 per cent of spectacles sold here were bought online. But this is expected to grow as people seek novelty and competitive prices, it added.
Mr Bernard Yang, managing director of Nanyang Optical, said a bigger problem is the sale of contact lenses online. “The sale of contact lenses is more of a real problem since they are placed directly onto the eye,” he said.
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A version of this story first appeared in The Straits Times.