Counterfeit colour contact lenses sold in optical shops around the world are frustrating legitimate contact lens manufacturers and putting consumers at risk.
In June 2011, CibaVision notified the Health Services Authority in Singapore of counterfeits fraudulently labelled “FreshLook ColorBlends Contact Lenses from Ciba Vision”, which were found to be of poor quality and were unsafe for the patient.
According to an alert published on Singapore’s Health Services Authority (HSA) website, Ciba Vision had been alerted to the problem when it received stocks of “FreshLook ColorBlends” contact lenses for exchange from several optical shops.
While counterfeit product poses serious risks to consumers, Tim Grant, Head of Professional Marketing for Alcon Vision Care Asia Pacific says that authentic colour contact lenses are manufactured to the highest quality standards and extensively tested for safety. Mr Grant stated “In order for Optometrists to safe guard their patients’ health, any contact lenses should only be purchased through legitimate channels. This applies to patients as well.”
We promptly reported this issue to HSA as consumer safety is our top priority. We view counterfeiting as a serious offence and are working closely with HSA to identify, investigate and seize counterfeit contact lenses from the market…
“The proprietary three in one colour technology Ciba Vision uses to manufacture its FreshLook Dailies range successfully blends three complimentary colours into one and has proven to produce lenses that are of high quality and are safe for consumers who use them appropriately,” he said.
To achieve colour stability in its lenses, Alcon Vision Care mixes pigment with the Nelfilcon A to form a coated suspension. A thin layer of the coated colour pigment suspension is printed onto the mould then placed under UV light for a very short time to hold it in place and prevent pigments from smudging. The bulk of Nelfilcon A is poured into the contact lens mould where Alcon Vision Care patented Lightstream technology uses UV light to cross-link the liquid polymer into a soft contact lens, including the Nelfilcon A-coated colour pigment.
Mr. Grant says that Alcon Vision Care tests have shown that the pigment in Freshlook One Day and FreshLook Illuminate lenses does not leach or discolour.
Furthermore, polarographic testing used to measure the Dk has shown that oxygen transmissibility of Freshlook OneDay and FreshLook Illuminate is similar to that of Dailies Clear lenses.
Conversely, the alert issued on www.hsa.gov.sg stated that the counterfeit lenses identified and reported to Singapore’s Health Service Authority by Ciba Vision were “unsafe, of poor quality and deficient in many aspects. For instance, the solution that the lenses were packed in was found to be contaminated with a harmful bacteria, Pseudomonas aeruginosa which has been known to cause serious eye infections.
The counterfeit lenses in general have lower water content and were thicker in the centre of the lens. These defects minimise oxygen penetration to the eye through the contact lenses. The lack of oxygen supply to the eye and several other defects found in the counterfeit lenses can give rise to severe eye irritation, discomfort and pain, in addition to the risk of eye infections.”
In a published statement Raymond Yew, Ciba Vision’s Business Unit Head, Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei said, “Ciba Vision was able to detect the counterfeit FreshLook ColorBlends lenses due to our strict monitoring processes and product security features.
“We promptly reported this issue to HSA as consumer safety is our top priority. We view counterfeiting as a serious offence and are working closely with HSA to identify, investigate and seize counterfeit contact lenses from the market.”