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Thursday / May 30.
HomeminewsDemand for Coloured Contact Lenses Soar

Demand for Coloured Contact Lenses Soar

Sales of coloured contact lenses (CCL) sold through fashion retailers and online continue to soar, yet many optometrists remain disinclined to take them on as a regular stock item.

Optometrists who mivision spoke with believe that at this point, the opportunity to build revenue on dispensing coloured contact lenses is “limited”.

“The tragedy of this product is that there is minimal opportunity for the average eye care practitioner to supply this product, assuming it comes with appropriate consultation time and billing,” said Dr. Jim Kokkinakis from Sydney’s The Eye Practice.

Yet there can be no doubt that leaving it up to mainstream stores to sell cosmetic lenses can put customers at risk.

There certainly is scope for coloured contact lenses in the average optometry practice…

“My wife went to a fashion shop near our practice to see how coloured contact lenses were being sold. When she asked what to clean the lenses with, she was offered some house brand multipurpose solution – who knows what that was and why they were selling it?” said Dr. Kokkinakis.

“When she asked how to put them in, the sales person said “don’t worry I’ll teach you here”. There was no sink, no hand towel, no hand wash… nothing!”

Margaret Lam from theeyecarecompany in Sydney said the opportunity to sell coloured contact lenses exists. “If there is a demand for them, then there is scope for supply. Contact lenses naturally fall into the optometric scope of offerings.

“There certainly is scope for coloured contact lenses in the average optometry practice, particularly if it is successfully marketed where the contact lenses are only sold accompanied with appropriate contact lens care instructions.”

However, she acknowledges, selling coloured contact lenses is not easy. “It’s challenging because most of the sales process involves balancing the need to encourage interest in the fun and appeal of coloured contact lenses while educating patients about the safety
and importance of being prescribed contact lenses properly.”

A Practice Builder

Michel Borrer from ABK Imports, which brings TGA approved plano and prescription Colourvue Contact lenses into Australia, believes optometrists could build their practice by stocking CCLs.

“Younger generations view coloured contact lenses just as we view fashion frames – as an accessory that can change your look for an occasion or to suit your mood,” said Michel.

“There are so many people buying plano coloured contacts, it stands to reason, the potential is there to sell just as many coloured prescription contact lenses.”

Online Selling Success

For one fashion retailer, demand for plano coloured contact lenses completely changed the focus of his business. “My partner and I had a small clothing shop in Wonthaggi, Victoria,” said Matt Nolan from Pimp My Eyes.

“We took on a small range of lenses as an experiment and they sold really well so we decided to have a go at selling them online. Sales boomed. That was about three years ago. We closed the shop two years ago to concentrate on the online business.

“Last year our sales grew by about 25 per cent over all and in October, because of Halloween, they grew by 50 per cent year on year.

“Our customers are a mix of female and male – about 60:40 with the majority aged between 18 – 30 from right across Australia,” he said.

Buyer Beware

Dr. Laura Downie, who has specialised in contact lens practise since 2003 says customers need to be made aware of the potential risk factors and should be encouraged to consult their optometrist before purchasing coloured contact lenses. “Cosmetic lenses, as per any other contact lens, are medical devices, that require appropriate fitting and after-care by a suitably qualified professional – that is, an optometrist.

“Patients who are fitted with cosmetic contact lenses need the same level of training with regard to lens maintenance and hygiene as patients who require contact lenses for vision correction; they also need to be advised of the potential risks factors for ocular inflammation and infection with any contact lens.

“In my opinion, the selling of any contact lens by fashion and online stores, without a patient undergoing the appropriate optometric care, is putting patients at risk.