26 May 2023

We respond to news reports on soft contact lenses containing fluoropolymers

The College of Optometrists has issued a statement in response to news reports that many soft contact lenses in the US contain compounds called fluoropolymers, which are also known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

We are aware that PFAS are increasingly being detected as pollutants and some are linked to negative effects on human health. They are used in rigid gas permeable contact lenses in Europe, although the use of PFAS in the EU (including in medical devices) is currently under review.

There are currently no published case reports or formal safety alerts of direct harmful effects relating to PFAS in contact lenses, or peer-reviewed published studies on the release or absorption characteristics of these chemicals from a contact lens to the eye. 

We recognise the need to reduce the environmental impact of eye care, including contact lens manufacture and disposal, while maintaining the quality and safety of patient care. We would strongly support the research and development of contact lens materials that offer high clinical performance, excellent patient safety and comfort, and environmentally sustainable manufacturing methods.

In the meantime, current contact lenses, when worn and cared for according to recommendations by a contact lens practitioner are considered very safe. Contact lens complications such as infections do occur but these are rare, with severe contact lens related infections affecting 2-4 people for 10,000 per year with typical daily wear. It is, therefore, important that contact lens wearers attend contact lens appointments as recommended by their practitioner, as this helps ensure their lenses remain suitable, and their eye health can be assessed.

More information

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