When I visited Warby Parker a few months ago, it had been two and a half years since my last eye exam.I knew my new prescription would be very different from the contact lenses I’ve been wearing.But I don’t know that I might have been wearing the wrong lenses.
During my appointment, the optometrist asked to see my current contact’s package in order to write a new prescription for me.I took the little blue package out of my bag and she asked, “Is that a Hubble?” She seemed panicked.
hubble contact lenses
I told her that the Hubble samples were the only lenses I’d ever worn that didn’t dry out my eyes until the afternoon.I also like the convenience of shipping them to my apartment.
She seemed surprised.She told me she never recommends Hubble to her patients, calling the lenses outdated and criticizing the company’s validation process.Still, she reluctantly gave me a prescription.
I sent Hubble my updated prescription, but the optometrist’s concerns still haunt me.I’ve never had any eye problems, but maybe Hubble is a little sketchy.So I decided to do some research and seek a second opinion.
Founded in 2016, Hubble ships contact lenses to customers for about $1 a day.The company has raised $70 million from investors at a valuation of about $246 million, according to PitchBook.
Online, I found doctors criticizing Hubble’s practices and techniques.Dr. Ryan Corte of Northlake Eye in Charlotte, NC is one of them.He tested a free trial of Hubble in February 2018, but said he couldn’t wear it for more than a day.
Corte’s main points were pretty much the same as my optometrist’s misgivings — outdated materials, questionable verification methods, and concerns about patient safety.But his comments praised the business acumen of Hubble’s co-founders.”They took old materials and built a brand behind a fun name and sexy marketing campaign,” he wrote.
Colter worries that Hubble is taking shortcuts and not prioritizing patients’ overall eye health.”If you don’t have normal vision with contact lenses,” he told me over the phone, “it can cause eyestrain, headaches, fatigue, and reduce people’s overall quality of life.”
Not just Colt.The American Optometric Association (AOA) has criticized Hubble for replacing generic lenses with specific prescriptions that don’t account for conditions like astigmatism, dry eyes or corneal size.
“Contact lenses are not a panacea,” said Dr. Barbara Horn, president of the AOA. “Hubble seems to believe that their lenses can do it, and absolutely can’t.”
Reports in publications such as The New York Times and Quartz criticized the way Hubble verifies prescriptions, as well as the old materials used to make the lenses.Hubble used methafilcon A, a material that has been in use since 1986.
There’s a lot of debate about whether the old materials Hubble uses for the lenses are really inferior to the new ones.
In a statement to Business Insider, Hubble said there’s no evidence that the new lenses, which allow more oxygen into the eye, are more comfortable or perform better.
But I wonder if there are any serious or long-term risks from using outdated lens materials, or if it’s more of a personal preference, like choosing between the latest iPhone and a two-year-old model that works just fine.
I talked to four doctors and none of them recommended Hubble.They say the lens material is outdated and the company runs the risk of selling incorrect contacts to patients.
I also reviewed more than 100 complaints about Hubble that were sent to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).The complaints reflect the same concerns and mention customers who received Hubble lenses without their doctors’ knowledge.
In the end, I spoke with seven clients, most of whom stopped using Hubble because they found these contacts uncomfortable.
Dr. Alan Wegner, of Richards and Wegner optometrists in Liberty, Missouri, said he doesn’t use Hubble because the technology is outdated.”People don’t go out and buy old flip phones,” he said.
When Corte, an ophthalmologist in North Carolina, puts his patients on contact lenses, he makes sure the lenses are well centered on their eyes, have the correct curvature, the correct diameter, the correct diopter, and that the patients are comfortable.”If the fit is poor, it can slide around and just cause discomfort,” says Colter.
However, serious problems can arise if a patient switches to a lens that another doctor never fits them.
If the lens is too tight, it can lead to complications from hypoxia from the tear film to the cornea, Corte said.Most doctors I’ve spoken to are concerned that Hubble’s lenses don’t allow enough oxygen to get into the eyes.
I have found that oxygen is essential for eye health.The retina is one of the tissues with the highest oxygen consumption in the human body.In the 13 years I’ve been wearing contact lenses, I never knew my eyes would “breathe”.
Each contact has an Oxygen Transmission Rate (OP) rating or Transmission Rate level (Dk).The higher the number, the more oxygen enters the eye.Oxygen not only makes eye contact comfortable every time you wear it, but it also helps keep your eyes healthy over time.
Dr. Katie Miller of Envision Eye Care in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, said she doesn’t wear Hubble’s lenses because the material doesn’t let enough oxygen into the eyes.
To verify prescriptions, Hubble calls customers’ doctors via automated messages.Under the FTC’s “Contact Lens Rule,” sellers must give doctors 8 business hours to respond to prescription authorizations.If sellers like Hubble don’t hear back within those eight hours, they’re free to complete the prescription.
The FTC has received 109 complaints about Hubble and its practices.The most common complaint was that doctors either didn’t have the opportunity to answer “robot” and “incomprehensible” voicemails from Hubble, or they weren’t authorized to verify, but they later found out that their patients had received Hubble footage anyway.
Hubble said in a statement that it uses automated messages “in part to prevent verification agents from inadvertently omitting information that the Contact Lens Rule requires to be communicated to eye care providers.”
AOA president Horne said Hubble’s automated calls were difficult to understand, and some doctors couldn’t hear patients’ names or birthdays.The AOA is working on a bill to ban robocalls, she said.
Since 2017, the AOA has received 176 doctor complaints about verification calls, 58 percent of which were related to Hubble, according to a statement the AOA sent to the FTC.
The doctors I spoke with said they never received a communication from Hubble to verify a patient’s prescription.
hubble contact lenses
Dr. Jason Kaminski of Vision Source Longmont, Colorado, filed a complaint with the FTC.He declined to comment on the complaint, but said that in one instance, Hubble replaced it with specific lenses and materials he prescribed for patients.He said he never authorized the Hubble lenses, but his patients received them anyway.
Horn had a similar experience.She fitted a patient with a special astigmatism lens.A few weeks later, the patient returned to Horn’s office, distraught because of her blurred vision.
“She prescribed Hubble, and Hubble gave her lenses that were pretty much the same as her prescriptions,” Horn said.
While some Hubble customers could get expired prescriptions, others experienced service interruptions when their prescriptions were not verified.
I haven’t seen an ophthalmologist since August 2016, but after my prescription expired in 2018, I received a Hubble contact for almost a year.Hubble told me it revalidated my prescription in December 2018, even though my doctor’s office told me it had no record of that authorization.
Brand strategist Wade Michael said comparing Hubble’s marketing to Harry and Casper, he found Hubble’s marketing attractive and stylish.”I think it just happened that the quality ended up not matching the actual product.”
Michael can comfortably wear his former Acuvue Oasys biweekly lenses from 6am to 11pm, but not Hubble for extended periods of time.
“I noticed that I tried to put them in my eyes as late as possible before I went to work,” Michael said. “By five or six in the evening, they were super dry.”
His new doctor prescribed One Day Acuvue Moist, which Michael said was the difference “day and night”.”Holding my lenses right now, it feels like water. You can tell they’re very soft and very, very hydrated, which is a pretty stark contrast to Hubble.”
When Feller first signed up for Hubble, she said she thought they would be easier and cheaper.”That was before I knew they were dailies,” Feller said.
Her previous footage lasted all day, from 9am to 10pm.But she said Hubble footage only lasted until about 3 p.m.”I always have to take them out because they dry out my eyes and they’re uncomfortable,” Feller said.She dipped them in a salt solution to make them more bearable.
When she got home from a long drive, she said she couldn’t get the correct lenses out and her eyes became red and irritated.”It felt horrible. It felt like there was a contact there. So I’m like freaking out right now.”
She went to the ophthalmologist the next day, and two doctors examined her eyes but couldn’t find a point of contact.The doctor told her that the contact must have fallen off and scratched her eye.
Feller threw away the rest of her Hubble footage.”After that, it was impossible for me to put those back in my eyes,” she said.
For three months, Eric van der Grieft noticed that his Hubble telescope was getting drier.Then his eyes were bruised.
“They’re getting worse and worse for my eyes,” Vandergrift said.He wears them regularly every day.”I actually take them out before the end of the day because they’re dry.”
He had some trouble getting his contacts out one night, but didn’t notice a bruise on his right eye until the morning.He went to a music festival with partially blurred vision and mentioned Hubble in a tweet.
“Part of that is up to me,” Vandergrift said.”When a product is cheap is up to the customer.” He said the whole experience made him take his health even more seriously.
Using Hubble, I usually had a good few years with few negatives.I don’t wear them every day, but usually switch between glasses and contacts within a week.I’ll admit that my Hubble box has been piling up lately because I’ve worn glasses more often than usual since I started writing this post.
Post time: Apr-02-2022