For only $36 per month and a $3 shipping and handling fee, you can have a month-long supply of subscription contact lenses which roughly translates to a dollar a day. This is the market offer made by Hubble, a start-up that promises to revolutionize eye care, that has taken social media by storm. However, amidst its apparent social media success, doctors and eye specialists warn of the ill effects of using contact lenses not prescribed by doctors.
Hubble had grown immensely since its founding back in 2016. The company has scored more than $70 million in funding from huge corporations like Colgate-Palmolive with its interesting and marketable pitch.
“We started Hubble, so you don’t have to choose between your health and your wallet. Our contacts are barely a dollar a day, so you can finally afford to wear fresh lenses as much as you like,” they said on their website.
Eye-care professionals warn against Hubble
But ophthalmologists and other eye specialists have criticized the company for selling contact lenses that bypass eye-care professionals. They accuse the company of not properly vetting prescriptions and that it takes advantage of federal regulations to sell their products that sometimes lead to the detriment of their consumers. Some even say that Hubble is using materials that are considered obsolete in the eye-care practice and can sometimes not fit properly.
But the company says their business is completely legal and that they have spent years researching their product to produce high-quality contact lenses.
“We spent almost a year researching lens manufacturers and visiting their factories. After careful consideration, we chose St. Shine as our partner, an FDA-approved contact lens manufacturer with more than twenty years of experience,” they wrote.
“Our lenses are made from high-grade methafilcon A hydrogel material. With 55% water content, UV protection, and a thin edge, they’re designed for easy insertion, all-day comfort, and crystal clear vision.”
Amid the company’s promises and assurance, many users have come forward to detail their experience in wearing Hubble contact lenses and how they developed eye problems because of it.
One documented case of corneal ulcer after using Hubble contact lenses highlights the risks of using non-prescribed eyewear. Optometrists and eye care professionals are also reporting many cases of complications exhibited by Hubble contact lenses users. Dr. Lauren Lodholz, an optometrist from Lexington, Ky., said that she had seen complications from wearing Hubble contacts in more than 50% of her patients.
“They’re just assuming the lenses they get from Hubble are the same thing I prescribe them,” Dr. Lodholz said. “They see it’s a great price and see the bottom line.”
As a standard medical practice, contact lenses, which are used for medical purposes, are fitted and adjusted based on the patient’s eyes. They are usually sold by optometrists who do the testing, and they specify brands from major manufacturers like Acuvue Oasys or Bionifinity Toric prescriptions. Sellers can substitute other brands as long as they can assure patients that the substitute still follows the actual prescription.
This is the reason why, according to Hubble, the cost of contact lenses became so expensive for US consumers who have to “balance their health and their wallets.”
“Why is it so hard to find affordable contact lenses? In the US and Canada, four manufacturers control about 95% of the contact lens market. Without much competition, they’ve set prices to be much higher than they should,” their website reads.
And because of the high price of branded contact lenses in the market, Hubble says consumers either “overpay or overwear” which risks them with eye damage.
In a statement, Hubble has denied allegations of bypassing healthcare professionals and said that they require their consumers to have prescriptions before subscribing to their services. “The suggestion that Hubble is engaging in impermissible contact lens substitution is simply not based on the facts or the law, and does not reflect our business practices or the standards by which we operate,” they said.
“All Hubble customers are required to have a current prescription for the daily disposable contact lenses that Hubble offers,” the company added. “Hubble uses industry-standard policies and procedures to verify that customers who sign up for Hubble subscriptions have such valid prescriptions.”