State: Still No Need to Require Prescriptions for Contact Lenses

ColorContactLens. Ricky Chow
Contact lenses. (Ricky Chow/Wikipedia)

The High Court is continuing to consider a long-standing petition against the open sale of contact lenses in Israeli pharmacies. The case has been going on for years, and the state in the most recent hearing presented its side of the case – saying that there were enough safeguards in the supply system to ensure that lenses were dispensed properly and safely, even without a prescription, Haaretz reported.

The petition to require prescriptions for contact lens sales was submitted over four years ago by the Israeli Optometrists Association and the Optikana eyeglass chain. Currently, anyone can go into a pharmacy in Israel and buy contact lenses without a prescription. The petition demands that Israel institute a system similar to that in North America and Europe, which requires that a prescription be presented before lenses are dispensed.

The law requires prescriptions in the case of eyeglasses, but not lenses, the petition states, and that could endanger the public; improper use of contact lenses and a failure to keep them clean could lead to severe eye infections, or even blindness, according to the petition. The petitioners point to a study that was undertaken by the Health Ministry in 2004 that recommended prescriptions for contact lenses and that they be dispensed only by optometrists. The petition demands that the Ministry institute its own recommendations.

In response, the Ministry told the court that while it has considered the idea of requiring lenses to be dispensed by optometrists and with a prescription, it had decided there was no need, as the chain of supply – supervising the manufacture and import of lenses, ensuring their quality and freshness – was well-covered by regulations, and the problems described in the petition would occur only after the lenses were taken home by the patient, when they would be administered without medical supervision in any event.

The next hearing on the matter has not been scheduled yet.

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