EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 1125 - October 10, 2005     2 of 3

eBay UK Pleads Not Guilty to Illegal Contact Lens Sales

Email This Story to a Friend

General Optical Council is prosecuting eBay UK for allowing unsupervised sales of contact lenses on its site. Bloomberg reports that eBay pled not guilty today and a trial will take place March 6 next year in London (

The September 28th press statement issued by General Optical Council follows.

There are currently over 200 contact lens sales advertised on, ranging from prescription daily disposables to 360 day colour lenses. Contact lenses must be sold by, or under the supervision of, either a registered optician or doctor. Under legislation introduced earlier this year, this now includes "zero powered" or cosmetic lenses.

Consumers buying lenses online without a prescription risk serious eye health problems, according to Nathan Efron, GOC member and professor of optometry at Manchester University: "Lenses sit directly on the eye, so even if they feel fine to the wearer, there is a risk of irritation and infection. These kind of problems could result in a wearer becoming intolerant, and not being able to wear contacts again. However, in a worst case scenario, it could lead to vision loss and blindness. So it is incredibly important to have lenses fitted by a qualified professional."

The Council will argue that eBay is responsible for preventing unsupervised sales of contact lenses via its website. GOC registrar Peter Coe said: "They have the means to stop these items being listed. Members of the public are being put at risk because eBay are just not willing to act on this."

eBay were made aware of the issue as early as November 2004. Given the company's continued failure to deal with the problem, a summons was issued in August this year. Peter Coe said: "We very much regret that it has been necessary to take legal action in this case. The GOC will always try to resolve such issues out of court wherever possible."

About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to

You may quote up to 50 words of any article on the condition that you attribute the article to and either link to the original article or to
All other use is prohibited.