Academy Response to Coalition for Contact Lens Consumer Choice Press Release

The Coalition for Contact Lens Consumer Choice issued a press release meant to be a fact sheet to debunk claims about health dangers from alternative retailers. The American Academy of Optometry (AAO) took issues with several aspects of the press release, but limits its response solely to false claims about the Academy.

The press release says, “…the American Academy of Optometry (AAO) published a study in the medical journal Contact Lens & Anterior Eye titled: Is Purchasing Lenses from the Prescriber Associated with Better Soft Lens Wearer Habits?” The AAO has never published an original scientific manuscript in a peer-reviewed journal. The authors of the manuscript are clearly identified, and their affiliations include a private consulting practice and several schools or colleges of optometry. While many of the authors are Fellows of the AAO, none of them work for the AAO, nor do any of them represent the AAO or the Board of Directors. As this work was conducted outside of support provided by the AAO, the AAO was not listed in the Acknowledgments section. In short, the AAO did not publish a study.

The press release continues, “Notably, this study, using Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data, was conducted by the CLAY Group, an optometric research organization formed by the AAO and the AOA…” The Contact Lenses and Youth (CLAY) Study Group was formed during a Summer Research Institute, jointly supported by the American Academy of Optometry and the Council on Research from the American Optometric Association. However, collaborations form organically during the Summer Research Institute. Neither the AAO nor the AOA directs or forms research groups. Research scientists with similar interests meet to discuss potential research topics, and the CLAY Group was certainly a successful outcome of the Summer Research Institute, as they have published several manuscripts regarding contact lens wear in children. However, the CLAY Group was not formed by either the AAO or the American Optometric Association.

The AAO hopes that by highlighting the erroneous information specifically about the American Academy of Optometry that was reported by the Coalition for Contact Lens Consumer Choice, readers of the press release will evaluate the material with a critical eye, self-assess the articles mentioned by the Coalition, and become familiar with evidence-based literature in its entirety, not solely those articles that may support a specific cause.