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Hubble faces a lawsuit after woman claims their contacts made her lose her eye

News
Article

A New Mexico woman alleges in a lawsuit that she had to have an eye removed because of defective contact lenses sold by Hubble Contacts.

New York Supreme Courthouse (Adobe Stock / waupee)

The lawsuit, which was filed June 30, 2023 in the New York Supreme Court, came after Guarisco bought Hubble contact lenses through the direct-to-consumer business’ website in early 2020. (Adobe Stock / waupee)

A New Mexico woman alleges in a lawsuit that she had to have an eye removed because of defective contact lenses sold by Hubble Contacts.

Stephanie Guarisco, from Clovis, NJ, claims after using the lenses for only a few weeks, she experienced severe pain and injury. This ultimately led to the loss of her right eye. She is suing Hubble’s parent company, Vision Path, for consumer fraud, negligence, 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," she alleges.1

The lawsuit, which was filed June 30, 2023 in the New York Supreme Court, came after Guarisco bought Hubble contact lenses through the direct-to-consumer business’ website in early 2020. She wore the lenses daily until late July of that same year. Weeks after discontinuing use, she required an emergency hospital visit due to severe pain in her left eye. Guardisco was then diagnosed by an optometrist with an inflamed iris condition called iridocyclitis, the suit claims.

According to court documents, she was later diagnosed with a corneal ulcer of the left eye. However, her issues and symptoms continued to worsen, and she was forced to return to the emergency room with “discharge, redness, itching, and visual disturbances” the lawsuit states. She reported decreased vision in her right eye after being diagnosed with a corneal ulcer of the right eye.

Guariso went through several surgeries attempting to repair the damage from the ulcer with little to no success, according to the suit, which states “she now has a permanent prosthetic placed in her right eye socket.”

Guarisco also claims in the lawsuit that she lost her vision because of the material Hubble contact lenses are made of. The contact lenses are made in Taiwan using Methafilcon A, a silicone-based polymer. Several optometrists state that the material is an inappropriate and outdated material for contact lenses because it does not provide sufficient oxygen to the eye.

While Hubble's contact lenses are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Methafilcon A is an inadequate material "no longer prescribed for contact lenses in the United States," according to the lawsuit.

The complaint also includes accusations of Vision Path of paying customers for positive reviews of the lenses on their website and not following the proper procedures for verifying customer prescriptions.

The lawsuit states, “Hubble provided free contact lenses to select customers in exchange for them providing testimonials about Hubble on internet review websites, such as the Better Business Bureau and HighYa. Hubble nor these endorsers disclosed that the endorsement had been compensated with free product for their review.”2

"We were saddened to hear about this occurrence and were unaware of the customer's claims until we received the lawsuit," the company said. "We began our investigation immediately following. Given the early stages of the case, we are unable to further comment on the specifics of the allegations or the results of our internal investigation."

Guarisco’s lawsuit, however, is not the first legal trouble Hubble has faced. In January 2022, Vision Path paid $3.5 million in a settlement to the Federal Trade Commission for failing to get proper optometrist prescriptions for customers’ contact lenses, along with other things. The FTC's Contact Lens Rule requires contact lens sellers to either obtain a copy of the consumer's prescription or verify the patient's prescription information with their vision care provider. According to federal regulators, the settlement was the largest ever paid by a company for violating U.S. contact lens rules at the time.

Vision Path also paid nearly $375,000 in a settlement with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. Hubble “deceptively marketed its lenses by representing them as ‘high quality’ even though they were manufactured using older technology that many other contact lens companies had moved away from.”3

The American Optometric Association (AOA) has been placing pressure on federal regulatory and health agencies to take “real action” in a letter sent by AOA President Ronald L. Benner, OD, to the FTC and FDA weeks after news of the patient’s lawsuit.

“The 2022 settlement alone is not sufficient, and we are concerned that the FDA and FTC’s ongoing leniency toward Hubble Contacts continues to put the American public at risk. Stronger, more meaningful action is direly needed,” the AOA letter reads.4

References
1. Brooks KJ. Contact lens maker faces lawsuit after woman said the product resulted in her losing an Eye. CBS News. July 8, 2023. Accessed October 2, 2023. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/stephanie-guarisco-hubble-contacts-lens-lawsuit/
2. Guarisco v Vision Path, 1:23 Civ 6941 (SC NY 2023)
3. AG Pax­ton Secures Set­tle­ment with Con­tact Lens Com­pa­ny for its Decep­tive Trade Prac­tices Toward Texans. Published online June 9, 2022. Accessed October 2, 2023. https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/news/releases/ag-paxton-secures-settlement-contact-lens-company-its-deceptive-trade-practices-toward-texans
4. Hubble contacts concerns grow after woman loses eye, Aoa asks where’s enforcement? American Optometric Association (AOA). August 10, 2023. Accessed October 2, 2023. https://www.aoa.org/news/advocacy/patient-protection/hubble-contacts-concerns-grow-after-woman-loses-eye-aoa-asks-wheres-enforcement?sso=y
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