When I was in the 1st grade, I got glasses. I couldn’t see well, so I had to wear them all the time. So, they were constantly getting bent or broken on the playground or in our yard. When I started playing football, they would get wet or muddy under my helmet, so then I really couldn’t see anything.
Then, a few weeks before starting high school, I got contact lenses. They were life changing. They didn’t fog up when I came in from the cold. They weren’t constantly getting dirty. And I could glance up at the sun without worrying about starting my face on fire.
While my lenses changed my life for the better, not everyone is so lucky.
In early 2020, Stephanie Guarisco of Clovis, New Mexico, bought Hubble contact lenses through the company’s direct-to-consumer website. Hubble was founded in 2016 by its parent company, Vision Path, and sells its contact lenses online through a mail-order subscription model. “Every set of lenses passes a multi-layer inspection that’s super tight and refreshingly thorough,” the company website boasts.
Despite this, Guarisco began experiencing problems. In August of 2020, she went to the emergency room because of severe pain in her left eye. An optometrist subsequently diagnosed her with an inflamed iris condition called iridocyclitis. She was later diagnosed with a corneal ulcer of her left eye.
After experiencing allergy-like symptoms in her right eye, including “discharge, redness, itching and visual disturbances,” she went to the ER again. Her right eye was also diagnosed as having a corneal ulcer, causing a decrease in her vision. Guarisco underwent several surgeries to try and repair the ulcer, but unfortunately, the procedures were unsuccessful. As a result, “she now has a permanent prosthetic placed in her right eye socket.”
So, earlier this summer, Guarisco filed a lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court against Vision Path, Hubble’s parent company, for negligence, consumer fraud and other counts. “Hubble contact lenses were unsafe, defective, and inherently dangerous in that the contact lenses were subject to a high rate of eye infections and corneal damage during normal and customary use,” the complaint alleges.
According to the suit, Hubble’s contact lenses are made in Taiwan and use Methafilcon A. Guarisco asserts that many optometrists believe the silicone-based polymer is inappropriate for making contact lenses because it doesn’t provide enough oxygen to the eye. The lawsuit further claims that Methafilcon A is “no longer prescribed for contact lenses in the United States,” as it is an inferior material. However, Hubble’s contact lenses are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
In addition to claiming the lenses are defective, Guarisco also accuses Vision Path of not following proper procedures for verifying customer prescriptions and for paying customers to give positive reviews of the lenses on its website.
This isn’t the first time someone set their sights on Vision Path. In January of 2022, the company paid a $3.5 million settlement to the Federal Trade Commission for, among other things, failing to obtain proper optometrist prescriptions for customers’ contact lenses. FTC rules require contact lens sellers either to obtain a copy of the consumer’s prescription or verify the patient’s prescription information with their vision care provider.
The settlement was the largest ever paid by a company for violating U.S. contact lens rules, federal regulators said at the time. Vision Path also paid nearly $375,000 in a settlement in Texas last June for what the state’s attorney general office called deceptive marketing.
I was incredibly lucky to have a fantastic eye doctor. And I was even luckier to marry his daughter!