In the UK, contact lenses can only be fitted by or under the supervision of a registered optometrist, qualified dispensing optician or medical practitioner. Once fitting is completed, your practitioner will issue you with a contact lens specification.
You may then buy contact lenses to your specification either from the practitioner who fitted your lenses or from other sources, provided the sale is under the ‘general direction’ of a registered practitioner.
The seller must have an in-date specification in order to supply you with lenses or, if this is not available, check the specification with your practitioner. The specification must include an expiry date and the date you are due for your next scheduled contact lens check-up. Anyone selling contact lenses must also make arrangements for ‘aftercare’ to take place.
The expiry date of your specification and the recommended interval between check-ups will depend on factors such as the type of lens, how you wear the lenses and your individual clinical features.
It is in your best interests, however, for scheduled check-ups to be at least every 12 months. The College of Optometrists also recommends that you only receive a maximum of six months’ supply, or the number of lenses you expect to need before the expiry date, at any one time.
You can get more information about contact lenses at the British Contact Lens Association.