Mainland sees red over coloured contact lenses
Alice Yan and Stuart Lau
Mainland authorities say they will step up regulation of coloured contact lenses and have told manufacturers and vendors to suspend production and imports.
The State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) said it was concerned about the risk such products pose, including infection and eye damage, due to the absence of proper medical supervision.
The administration will soon announce new regulations that will include coloured contact lenses in a category of medical devices - along with corrective contact lenses, artificial heart valves and artificial joints - that require the strictest supervision. Thereafter, the unlicensed production and sale of coloured contact lenses will be banned.
'We suggest that manufacturers and vendors of plain-coloured contact lenses suspend production and imports (in the meantime) to avoid possible losses,' the SFDA said in an online statement on Thursday. The decision was made after an investigation that began last year. It warned users to 'choose carefully' as improper use can harm their eyes.
Coloured contact lenses are very popular on the mainland and cheap local brands are easily available from online stores without prescription.
A Polytechnic University optometrist said the Hong Kong government lagged behind the mainland in controlling coloured contact lenses.
'The [mainland] Chinese government has imposed controls on contact lenses in general, but not in Hong Kong,' said Professor Pauline Cho Wong Hie-hua, adding it would be ideal for the city to follow suit and impose 'certain control' over coloured contact lenses, which were being 'abused' by Hongkongers.
The Hong Kong Health Department confirmed it had received one complaint about coloured contact lenses last year. It added that the government would consider including coloured contact lenses in the proposed regulatory framework for medical devices.
The average age of people who wore contact lenses in 2010. Two thirds of them were women