7 charged for sale of bogus contact lenses

PHOTO: 7 charged for sale of bogus contact lenses

SINGAPORE - Seven people were charged yesterday for their involvement in the sale of counterfeit contact lenses which were tainted with a bacteria that could cause serious eye infections, The Straits Times reported.

This is the first time the Health Sciences Authority is pressing charges over such an offence.

HSA discovered 122 boxes of the lenses falsely labelled under the brand Freshlook ColorBlends from Ciba Vision. Eight boxes had been sold to the public.

One of the accused, freelance salesman Wong Chow Fatt, 52, pleaded guilty in court to two charges on supplying a counterfeit health products. He was fined $6,000.

He was fined an additional $6,000 for another charge of contravening the Trade Marks Act for selling items falsely labelled under a registered trademark.

Wong had bought 30 boxes of the lenses for $225 - about half the cost of the real lenses - from optometrist Koh Peng Kiat, 29, and sold them to opticians Ng Cheng Peow, 51, and Pae Bee Kian, 47 in May last year.

The two opticians are married and jointly run the optical shop Crystalite Contact Lens & Optical in Joo Chiat. Pae also runs Azpec Eyecare in Jurong West. Both shops were found selling the counterfeit lenses, but none had been sold to the public.

Koh had also sold 100 boxes of the lenses to optometrist Neo Teck Soon, 26. Neo then sold the lenses to opticians Goh Pek Joo, 34, and Ong Wei Yee, 31, who jointly own D'Optique Your Eye Boutique in Woodlands. The shop had sold eight boxes to the public.

Ciba Vision first received notice of the counterfeit lenses after the four opticians sent the lenses to the company for exchange in June last year. Lens stock is sometimes returned to the company to exchange for lenses of different colours or degrees.

The lenses were discovered to be counterfeit as the packaging had typographical errors. The discovery was reported to HSA and laboratory tests conducted by both the company and HSA.

The lenses were discovered to be unsafe and of poor quality, with the solution the lenses were in contaminated with dangerous bacteria and the lenses thicker and having a lower water content, both which reduces oxygen supply to the eye.

Those who believe they may have bought the bogus lenses are advised to contact Ciba Vision at 1800-242-2222 and consult a doctor should they experience any negative symptoms such as eye irritation, redness or blurred vision.