Vision Health Professionals Applaud Government's Decision To Classify Non-Corrective 'Cosmetic' Contact Lenses As Class II Medical Devices

OTTAWA, July 30, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Eye and vision health professionals (ophthalmologists, optometrists and opticians) commend the Federal Ministry of Health and Health Canada on their decision to advance regulations that will require the same medical device safety standards for non-corrective or 'cosmetic' contact lenses as prescription or corrective contact lenses, in accordance with Private Member's Bill C-313, An Act to Amend the Food and Drugs Act (non-corrective contact lenses). The Canadian Ophthalmological Society, the Canadian Association of Optometrists and the Opticians Association of Canada have been working together to advocate for this change for over ten years. All three organizations look forward to continuing to collaborate with the Federal Government and Health Canada to help inform the guidance documents which will set forth the regulations. The new regulations relating to non-corrective contact lenses are set to come into effect July 16, 2016.

"As eye physicians and surgeons, ophthalmologists are the ones who treat the damage caused by non-corrective cosmetic contact lenses, including corneal ulcers which can lead to permanent vision loss," says Dr. Allan Slomovic, MSc, MD, FRCS(C), President, Canadian Ophthalmological Society. "Bill C-313 is an excellent example of how government, Health Canada, the Canadian Ophthalmological Society, the Canadian Association of Optometrists and the Opticians Association of Canada can work collaboratively to ensure eye safety for all Canadians."

"The success of Bill C-313, MP Pat Davidson's Private Members Bill, will ultimately help protect the most sensitive organ in the human body, our eyes. The Canadian Association of Optometrists commends Health Canada for seeing the dangers posed by cosmetic contacts and taking the initiative to ensure regulated oversight of the manufacturing, distribution and labeling of these products. These regulations will serve to further safeguard the vision of all Canadians." says Dr. Barry Thienes, President, Canadian Association of Optometrists.

"As a mother as well as a Licensed Optician I am pleased Health Canada has moved forward in protecting the eye health of all Canadians, especially our youth," says Dalie Schellen, President of the Opticians Association of Canada.

About Bill C-313

'Cosmetic' contact lenses (also called decorative lenses) are used to change the colour or appearance of the eyes, but can produce corneal ulcers that can quickly lead to permanent vision loss if left untreated. These types of lenses have been regulated as consumer products and are typically sold by costume and cosmetic retailers. Bill C-313 will classify non-corrective contact lenses as class II medical devices under the Food and Drug Act. This will require manufacturers of non-corrective contact lenses to apply for a medical device license to sell the products in Canada. As well, importers and distributors of the products will be required to obtain a medical device establishment license. In addition to the licensing requirements, there are specific standards for labeling required for class II medical devices.

Patricia Davidson, Member of Parliament (MP) for Sarnia-Lambton, first brought forward the Private Member's Bill C-313 in early October 2011. Concerns raised about these products included: the lack of information available at the point of purchase on appropriate use and care; contact lenses are not a one-size-fits-all product; and not everyone is a candidate to wear contact lenses. The primary causes of contact lens complications are due to improper use and care and the fact that 50 per cent of non-corrective lens wearers are first-time contact lens users. Non-corrective contact lenses are only available in one base curve size. When fitting for corrective contact lenses the eye care professional measures the base curve and prescribes the brand with the appropriate measurement for the user. Improper use or an ill-fitting contact lens will present a variety of eye health risks that may include corneal scarring, abrasions and ulcers.

About the Canadian Ophthalmological Society

The Canadian Ophthalmological Society is the national public authority on eye care in Canada, representing eye physicians and surgeons from every province and territory, and advocating for improved vision care policies and standards in Canada, and around the world.

About the Canadian Association of Optometrists

The Canadian Association of Optometrists is the national voice of optometry and is dedicated to collaboratively advancing the highest standard of primary eye care through the promotion of optimal vision and eye health, in partnership with all Canadians.

About the Opticians Association of Canada

The Opticians Association of Canada is a professional association representing Licensed Opticians in Canada. Our mission is to promote Licensed Opticians and the profession; to develop and maintain a professional standard of knowledge and proficiency in our occupational field, and to educate and inform vision care consumers about matters related to their eye health.

To arrange an interview or for more information, please contact:

Rosalind O'Connell
Manager, Communications and Public Affairs
Canadian Ophthalmological Society

Laurèl Craib
Manager of Government and Stakeholder Relations
Canadian Association of Optometrists
613-235-7924 x 214

Robert Dalton
Executive Director
Opticians Association of Canada
1-800-847-3155 x 217