Title:
Packaging and supply of contact lenses
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A package is provided for supplying contact lenses directly to a wearer by mail or internet order. An outer mailing envelope (402) contains packages of bulk quantity of lenses (210) and a trial quantity of lenses (310) of the same prescription and manufacturing lot. These are supplied simultaneously, the bulk lenses being packaged with a tamper-evident seal (212) while the trial lenses are accessible for use without breaking said seal. In the example described, bulk and trial packs of lenses for two eyes are contained within the same mailing envelope. Each bulk pack contains 92 lenses for three months' wear, plus a strip of four lenses in the trial pack. The strip of trial lenses is taken from one of six sheets of sixteen lenses included in the bulk pack. Prescription and lot details can be read directly from the blister packs through window in the bulk package, without breaking the seal (212).



Inventors:
Hamilton, Ronald Shade (Blantyre, GB)
Application Number:
11/440361
Publication Date:
11/23/2006
Filing Date:
05/25/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A45C11/04; B65D85/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
THOMAS, BRANDI N
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
JACOBSON HOLMAN PLLC (Washington, DC, US)
Claims:
1. A method of supplying contact lenses to a wearer, wherein a bulk quantity of contact lenses and a trial quantity of contact lenses of the same prescription as the bulk lenses are supplied simultaneously, the bulk lenses being packaged with a tamper-evident seal while the trial lenses are accessible for use without breaking said seal.

2. A method as claimed in claim 1, wherein said bulk quantity of lenses represents between two and three months' supply, the quantity of bulk lenses ranging from 60 to 100 daily lenses.

3. A method as claimed in claim 1, wherein said bulk quantity of lenses represents three months' supply, the quantity of bulk lenses ranging from 88 to 96 lenses.

4. A method as claimed in claim 1, wherein the trial quantity of lenses comprises fewer than ten lenses.

5. A method as claimed in claim 4, wherein the trial quantity of lenses comprises four or five lenses.

6. A method as claimed in claim 1, wherein the trial lenses are supplied in a package attached to the outside of the sealed package of the bulk lenses.

7. A method as claimed in claim 1, wherein the sealed package for the bulk lenses has an integral externally accessible pocket for holding the trial lenses.

8. A method as claimed in claim 1, wherein the packaged trial lenses and bulk lenses are supplied within a single outer envelope.

9. A method as claimed in claim 8, wherein the outer envelope contains packages of trial lenses and bulk lenses for each of two eyes.

10. A method as claimed in claim 1, wherein lens identification information for the lenses within the bulk lens package, such as prescription, batch numbers and date of manufacture, shall be visible before the seal on the bulk lens package is broken.

11. A method as claimed in claim 1, wherein said trial lenses and bulk lenses are sourced from the same manufacturing batch or ‘lot’.

12. A method as claimed in claim 1, wherein said lenses are provided in one or more sheets, each sheet comprising a plurality of cavities each holding at least one lens and being sealed by a sealing foil.

13. A method as claimed in claim 12, wherein the cavities are blisters integrally formed in a single sheet of formable material.

14. A method as claimed in claim 12, wherein said cavities are sealed by a common single sealing foil.

15. A method as claimed in claim 12, wherein the or each of said sheets comprises a plurality of individually formed single-cavity blisters attached to a common single sealing foil.

16. A method as claimed in claim 12, wherein each sheet in said bulk package holds between twelve and twenty lenses.

17. A method as claimed in claim 12, wherein the sheet further comprises weakened zones between rows of lenses that allow strips of lenses to be snapped or torn off the sheet by the application to the sheet of a bending moment or tearing action, respectively.

18. A method as claimed in claim 12, wherein the manufacturer removes a row or column of lenses from a sheet, packages the rest of the sheet with the bulk quantity of lenses and uses the detached lenses as the trial quantity.

19. A method as claimed in claim 12, wherein the trial lenses comprise a strip of blisters separated from a sheet of the same type as are contained within the bulk pack.

20. A method as claimed in claim 1, further comprising the step of a wearer returning the bulk lenses within the unopened sealed package, after wearing one or more of the trial lenses.

21. A method as claimed in claim 1, further comprising the preliminary step of taking an order from a wearer without the intermediary of an ophthalmic practitioner, the lenses being of a prescription specified by the wearer, said package being supplied direct to the wearer.

22. A method as claimed in claim 1, further comprising a preliminary step of taking an order from an ophthalmic practitioner, the lenses being of a prescription specified by the ophthalmic practitioner, said package being delivered directly to the wearer for trial and use.

23. A contact lens package, said package containing a bulk quantity of contact lenses and a trial quantity of contact lenses of the same prescription as the bulk lenses, the bulk lenses being packaged with a tamper-evident seal while the trial lenses are accessible for use without breaking said seal.

24. A package as claimed in claim 23, wherein said bulk quantity of lenses represents between two and three months' supply, the quantity of bulk lenses ranging from 60 to 100 daily lenses.

25. A package as claimed in claim 23, wherein said bulk quantity of lenses represents three months' supply, the quantity of bulk lenses ranging from 88 to 96 lenses.

26. A package as claimed in claim 23, wherein the trial quantity of lenses comprises fewer than ten lenses.

27. A package as claimed in claim 26, wherein the trial quantity of lenses comprises four or five lenses.

28. A package as claimed in claim 23, wherein the trial lenses are contained in a package attached to the outside of the sealed package of the bulk lenses.

29. A package as claimed in claim 23, wherein the sealed package for the bulk lenses has an integral externally accessible pocket for holding the trial lenses.

30. A package as claimed in claim 23, further comprising an outer envelope containing the packaged trial lenses and bulk lenses.

31. A package as claimed in claim 30, wherein the outer envelope contains packages of trial lenses and bulk lenses for each of two eyes.

32. A package as claimed in claim 23, wherein lens identification information for the lenses within the bulk lens package, such as prescription, batch numbers and date of manufacture, is visible before the seal on the bulk lens package is broken.

33. A package as claimed in claim 23, wherein said trial lenses and bulk lenses are sourced from the same manufacturing batch or ‘lot’.

34. A package as claimed in claim 23, wherein said lenses are provided in one or more sheets, each sheet comprising a plurality of cavities each holding at least one lens and being sealed by a sealing foil.

35. A package as claimed in claim 34, wherein the cavities are blisters integrally formed in a single sheet of formable material.

36. A package as claimed in claim 34, wherein said cavities are sealed by a common single sealing foil.

37. A package as claimed in claim 34, wherein the or each of said sheets comprises a plurality of individually formed single-cavity blisters attached to a common single sealing foil.

38. A package as claimed in claim 34, wherein each sheet in said bulk package holds between twelve and twenty lenses.

39. A package as claimed in claim 34, wherein the sheet further comprises weakened zones between rows of lenses that allow strips of lenses to be snapped or torn off the sheet by the application to the sheet of a bending moment or tearing action, respectively.

40. A package as claimed in claim 34, wherein the trial quantity comprises a row or column of lenses removed from a sheet, the remainder of that sheet being included within the bulk quantity of lenses.

41. A package as claimed in claim 34, wherein the trial lenses comprise a strip of blisters separated from a sheet of the same type as are contained within the bulk pack.

42. A package as claimed in claim 23, further comprising a mailing envelope or label for use by a wearer in returning the bulk lenses within the unopened sealed package, after wearing one or more of the trial lenses.

43. A package as claimed in claim 23, specifically adapted for mailing directly to a wearer without the intermediary of an ophthalmic practitioner.

44. A package as claimed in claim 23, further including an order form and/or instructions printed with wearer-specific information, for ordering a further package of lenses from a supplier.

Description:

This is a continuation of PCT/GB04/004989 filed Nov. 26, 2004 and published in English.

This invention relates to packaging for contact lenses, in particular for packaging to support delivery direct from manufacturer to customer. The invention further relates to processes for the supply of contact lenses for trial and ongoing use.

It is customary for opticians to allow users (or “wearers”) of contact lens a short trial period using “trial lenses” before finalising the prescription details and supplying bulk, “commercial lenses”. The purpose of these trials is to allow the user to assess whether or not the lenses are comfortable and give generally good vision-correction, in line with the in-practice eye test (which will have determined the likely necessary corrective power of the lenses needed by the user). The trial period is normally for a few hours, the user having been fitted with the trial lenses being asked to go for a short walk and then to return to the practice. This trial could then be extended for several days, for example 2 to 4 days, again to give the user, especially a new user, a chance to become confident with the product before being issued with quantities in bulk.

The trial lenses are often provided by the lens manufacturer to the optician free of charge, and are often made available in ‘not for resale’ packs on the condition that they are provided on a free of charge basis for trials purposes only.

It should be noted that although ideally the trial lenses would be exactly the same as the commercial lenses, which would be dispensed after a successful trial period, the latter will be, most probably, from a completely different batch or “lot”, albeit from the same manufacturer. As such, the commercial lenses may vary slightly in precise prescription (for example, the lens power) and/or precise fit, due to slight batch-to-batch variation expected in even the most advanced manufacturing processes.

While the prescription provided by the ophthalmologist or optician is also generally accurate there can be variation of 0.25 dioptres. On top of this, contact lenses may be measured precisely but then assigned to the nearest 0.25 dioptre stock-keeping unit. The trial lenses may be from a batch that has had the power allocated by being ‘rounded up’ whilst the lenses dispensed for regular use may have had the power reading ‘rounded down’.

Developments in Contact Lens Manufacture.

The introduction of mass-produced disposable contact lenses, especially daily disposable lenses, has resulted in considerably higher manufacturing standards and greater lens-to-lens consistency. These lenses are made by the moulding of liquid monomer in high precision optical moulds, unlike the more variable method of individual lathe cutting which characterised contact lens manufacture before the advent of disposable lenses. Processes of this type are described in our co-pending applications WO 03/039969 (agent's ref 63965WO) and PCT/GB2004/003211 (agent's ref 64439WO, not published at the present filing date).

Also, manufacturing processes, once largely unregulated, have increasingly become subject to independent regulatory approval. This has, inevitably, also resulted in a more consistent contact lens products being produced and sold.

Developments in the Dispensing of Soft Contact Lenses.

The above improvements in manufacturing process consistency have resulted in the distribution of contact lenses and their associated cleaning solutions increasingly being made available other than by the direct fitting/dispensing by a qualified optician. For example, contact lens solutions are now sold by supermarkets in all major countries and there is a trend for the contact lenses themselves to be marketed by pharmacies, the user simply selecting lenses of their desired prescription (lens power) from a display rack. In some countries, for example Germany, the supply of contact lenses does not require any form of consultation or examination by an optician or pharmacy-type dispensers, and can be readily sold by mail order, or other such direct-supply means.

Lastly, the increasing acceptance of purchasing goods via the Internet means that users are electing to obtain their lens power prescription from an optician, but then choosing to purchase the lenses via the Internet due to the lower prices available from large Internet suppliers operating across international boundaries. The Internet also means that, even in countries where strict regulation requires the direct involvement by an ophthalmologist to issue the prescription and then an optician to sell the lenses in accordance with the ophthalmologist's written prescription, users can and do, once in possession of their prescription, simply purchase from an overseas supplier, for example via the Internet.

The Loss of the Short User Trial.

It is evident that purchasing lenses based on the written prescription from a pharmacy, or via the Internet or by mail order eliminates the useful facility of the short user trial, described earlier. The traditional short user trial may have some limitations but it is, nevertheless, a valuable safeguard for the user.

It is an object of the present invention to provide a more flexible method of supplying contact lenses while retaining or improving upon the benefits provided by a short user trial.

Embodiments of the invention provide a direct purchaser of lenses 1) a means for trialling lenses without having to commit to purchasing large quantities, and 2) a way of maintaining quality and prescription between trial lenses and bulk, commercial quantities of the lenses. These embodiments also allow the supplier of such lenses to 1) track lens batch numbers as efficiently as possible, 2) return lenses to stock without the fear of tampering, and 3) supply the bulk and trial lenses in a single transaction, using a single manufacturing process.

The invention provides a method of supplying contact lenses to a wearer, wherein a bulk quantity of lenses and a trial quantity of lenses of the same prescription as the bulk lenses are supplied simultaneously, the bulk lenses being packaged with a tamper-evident seal while the trial lenses are accessible for use without breaking said seal.

Said bulk quantity of lenses may represent two or three months' supply (for example, between 60 and 100 daily lenses). For three months' supply, the quantity of bulk lenses may range from 88 to 96 lenses.

The trial quantity of lenses may comprise fewer than ten lenses, and preferably four or five lenses.

The trial lenses may be supplied in a package attached to the outside of the sealed package of the bulk lenses. The sealed package for the bulk lenses may have an integral externally accessible pocket for holding the trial lenses. Alternatively, or in addition, packaging for the trial lenses and the bulk lenses may be supplied within a single outer envelope. Any of these unified package designs simplifies handling and shipping for the manufacturer and/or anyone else in the supply chain. It also saves on distribution and packaging costs, and minimises the opportunities for mistakes to arise.

Packaged lenses are generally provided with identification information, such as prescription, batch numbers and date of manufacture. Preferably the identification information of the trial and bulk lenses is visible before the seal on the bulk lens package is broken. The bulk lens package may in particular have an aperture through which details of the contents can be seen without breaking the seal on the bulk lens package. This allows the user to verify their prescription before breaking the seals and allows anyone handling the lenses to readily recognise the prescription.

The trial lenses and bulk lenses are preferably sourced from the same manufacturing batch or ‘lot’. By sourcing the lenses from the same batch the user can be assured that the lenses in the bulk pack will have the same prescription and comfort as the lenses they have trialled, when opening the bulk pack. This addresses a problem in the more traditional methods of trialling lenses, described already above. A further advantage to the manufacturer is that they only have to trace one set of information for quality control purposes, rather than separately for a trial pack and a bulk pack.

The lenses may be provided in one or more sheets, each sheet comprising a plurality of cavities each holding at least one lens and being sealed by a sealing foil.

The cavities may be blisters integrally formed in a single sheet of formable material. They may be individually sealed or sealed by a common single sealing foil. Alternatively, the or each sheet may comprise a plurality of individually formed single-cavity blisters attached to a common single sealing foil.

In the bulk package each sheet may hold between twelve and twenty lenses, depending upon the configuration of the sheet. For example sixteen lenses in a sheet of four by four lenses, or fifteen in a sheet of five lenses by three lenses).

The sheet may further comprise weakened zones between rows of lenses that allow strips of lenses to be snapped off the sheet by the application of a bending moment to the sheet, or for being torn off. The manufacturer may remove a row or column of lenses from a sheet, package the rest of the sheet with the bulk quantity of lenses and use the detached lenses as the trial quantity. Alternatively, the trial lenses may comprise a strip of blisters separated from a sheet of the same type as are contained within the bulk pack. Either method allows processing of the trial lenses to be identical to that of the bulk lenses, right up to the last packaging stage.

The method may further comprise the step of a wearer returning the bulk lenses within the unopened sealed package, after wearing one or more of the trial lenses.

The method may comprise a preliminary step of taking an order from a wearer without the intermediary of an ophthalmic practitioner, the lenses being of a prescription specified by the wearer, said package being supplied direct to the wearer.

The method may comprise a preliminary step of taking an order from an ophthalmic practitioner, the lenses being of a prescription specified by the ophthalmic practitioner, said package being delivered directly to the wearer for trial and use.

Trial lenses may be omitted when supplying the same wearer subsequently, or may be included every time lenses are supplied.

The invention further provides a contact lens package, said package containing a bulk quantity of lenses and a trial quantity of lenses of the same prescription as the bulk lenses, the bulk lenses being packaged with a tamper-evident seal while the trial lenses are accessible for use without breaking said seal.

The package may be used in performing the supply methods according to the invention as set forth above. The package may have any of the optional and advantageous features described above in relation to the method.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Embodiments of the invention will now be described, by way of example only, by reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIGS. 1a and 1b are a plan and side elevation view respectively of a “Foil”, or sheet, of sixteen contact lenses, each in its own sterile ‘blister’ pack;

FIG. 2 is a side elevation view of a stack of six such sheets of 96 lenses, typically sufficient for just over three months daily wear;

FIGS. 3a and 3b are plan views of a strip of four lenses that has been separated from one of the sheets, and how it appears in a trial pack of lenses, respectively;

FIG. 4 illustrates a shipping pack containing a bulk pack of lenses for each eye, and respective trial packs;

FIGS. 5 to 7 illustrate alternative forms of package; and

FIG. 8 illustrates different processes for the supply of lenses to wearers, using the packs of FIGS. 4 to 7.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENTS

An Internet, mail order purchase or other direct purchase scheme is most commonly used for obtaining a three month supply of lenses, typically described as 90 lenses made to the prescription (power) for the right eye and 90 lenses made to the prescription for the left eye. The 90 lenses are generally provided on flat sheets or ‘foils’ of, say, 15 individually packed lenses (the actual lenses being in sterile plastic ‘blisters’).

FIGS. 1a and 1b are a plan and side elevation view respectively of a sheet 100 of 16 contact lenses of one prescription (that is, for one eye), each lens in its own sterile cavity or ‘blister’ 110 sealed by a common foil 112. As can be seen, the foil 112 covering each individual blister 110 containing a lens is printed prominently at 120 with the power (prescription) of the lenses within (in this example, −6.50 dioptres). Manufacturers retain lot or batch numbers for the product made, such batch numbers being a reference to the precise date and method of manufacture employed for that particular batch. The batch number is also printed over each number at 122, although the skilled person will appreciate that other methods of identification or tagging could be used to provide traceability. Other textual information can be applied as shown, together with any desired branding. These are not relevant to the invention presently described.

The foil 112 incorporates zones 130 between rows of lenses which are weakened (for example, by perforation), allowing strips of lenses to be snapped off the sheet (still with sealing foil intact) by the application of a bending moment to the foil 112, or for being torn off.

FIG. 2 shows a cross-sectional view of a bulk quantity 200 of lenses comprising a stack of six of the sheets 100 totalling 96 lenses, sufficient for just over 3 months daily wear. These sheets are contained within a box 210 provided with a tamper-evident seal 212. Six such sheets 100 provide a supply slightly exceeding the 90 lenses typically supplied. A manufacturer's “lot”, or batch, would consist of several thousand contact lenses all produced under identical conditions, therefore the stacks of 96 lenses will consist of 96 identical lenses sourced from a single batch. A window 220 is provided in the box so that the power markings 120, batch numbers 122 etc can be seen without breaking the seal 212. The skilled person will appreciate that the 4×4 configuration of blisters on each sheet is not essential, and that other formats would suffice, such as 5×3 blisters per sheet.

FIGS. 3a and 3b are plan views of a strip 300 of four blisters each containing a lens, that has been separated from one of the sheets 100, and how it appears in a trial pack 310 of lenses, respectively. The trial pack in this illustration comprises a simple paper envelope, which may be printed with instructions for use. The trial lenses are identical to the bulk quantities by being sourced from the same manufacturing batch (and indicated as such). The trial pack 310 is attached to, or incorporated with, the bulk pack 210 of lenses, as will be illustrated below. The trial pack of lenses may also have its own tamper-evident seal 320, to further demonstrate integrity of the package to the user.

If the four lenses are separated from one of the sheets shown in FIG. 2, then 92 blisters 110 containing lenses remain in the stack 200. An alternative option would be to provide for each bulk pack 210 each bulk quantity 200 as six full sheets (96 in total), and source the trial strip of four lenses from another sheet, albeit from the same batch. This approach may be commercially advantageous for when a bulk pack 210 is returned un-tampered, and the manufacturer wishes to return all six, complete sheets to stock, without having to discard an incomplete sheet. The choice may depend on whether trial packs are supplied with all bulk packs, or only those for customers with a new prescription.

FIG. 4 illustrates a complete package comprising a rigid outer envelope in the form of a shipping box 400 containing two bulk packs of lenses, one per eye, and two trial packs 310, one per eye. A large flap 402 that covers both packs is shown in its opened state, revealing both bulk packs 210, each with its own window 220 for viewing the prescription and other identification legends 120, 122. Space is also provided for an L/R indicator 404 to be applied to the pack to remind the wearer which set of lenses is for the left eye and which is for the right eye (the prescription will generally be different for each eye). The manufacturer may elect to provide a further tamper-evident seal to maintain the complete shipping pack in its closed state. The inside of flap 402 provides a convenient surface for written or pictographic instructions for the wearer. These can of course be placed on the individual packs 210 and/or separate leaflets. The two sets of 96 lenses in total per eye can then be onward despatched to the end user.

The flap 402 includes a window 406 for mailing address details to be seen by postal services when printed on a delivery note (not shown) inside the package. This delivery note also can contain prescription information, lot numbers, billing information, instructions for re-ordering branding of the optometrist etc. As an alternative to window 406 a label can of course be provided on the outside of the box. In that case, however, the packer must take care that the details on the label match the details and contents provided inside.

By the simple expediency of incorporating a strip 300 of four lenses 110 (or five, depending upon the configuration of the “donor” sheet 100) the user can conduct a simple short trial for each eye before breaking the bulk pack tamper seal 212 and opening the bulk pack 210 of lenses. If the wearing of the trial lenses 300 contained in the trial pack 410 suggests some unsatisfactory feature to the user (for example discomfort or incorrect prescription) the person can be offered the chance to return the bulk pack 210 unopened for full or partial credit. The provision of such a trial quantity also has the beneficial psychological effect of emphasising to the user the need to conduct an evaluation of the lenses, and an easy to return pack 210 discourages the user from persisting with the use of the product which may not be fully satisfactory. A pre-paid return label or envelope (not shown) can be provided if desired. By ensuring the bulk pack 210 is returned (in the event of an unsuccessful trial) with the tamper evident seal 212 in place the returned lenses can be returned to manufacturer's stock.

Furthermore, it is clearly an advantage to have the trial lenses 300 and bulk lenses 200 supplied from the same batch, and the lot or batch number 120 readily readable without opening the bulk pack 210. In addition to the obvious benefit of ensuring a like-for-like-trial to regular-wear experience, the cost of shipping is considerably reduced, as it is not necessary to ship trial and commercial lenses separately. Regulations often insist that the lens manufacturer and/or the dispensing optician record the batch or “lot” number 120 dispensed to each patient. This method of providing lenses 110, by sourcing the trial lenses 300 and the commercial, bulk lenses 200 from the same batch, greatly simplifies the dispensing process and any subsequent for product re-call which might be necessary if a problem affecting a particular batch is uncovered after the lenses have been despatch.

FIG. 5 illustrates a further embodiment of the bulk and trial lens packaging concept, in which one strip of four trial lenses 500 projects outside a sealed bulk pack 510 whilst still remaining attached to its foil. The user snaps or tears off the projecting strip of lenses without breaking the seal 515 on the bulk pack, and uses these four lenses as trial lenses, the remaining lenses remaining tamper-evident sealed until the results of the trial are known. Tamper-evident sealing of the trial lenses 500 that project from the package 510 is provided by the foil-sealing inherently provided with the packaging of contact lenses in “blister packs”. The skilled person will appreciate that different configurations of the sheet may result in different quantities of trial lenses (for example 3 or 5) projecting from the bulk pack.

This embodiment still provides simple identification 520 of the lenses (such as prescription, batch number and date of manufacture), providing the advantages mentioned above, and without the need for providing a window 220 in the package. Again, two such packs, selected according to the prescription for each eye of the wearer, can be combined in a single shipping pack such as that shown in FIG. 4.

FIG. 6 illustrates an alternative shipping pack comprising a simple padded envelope 600 in which each trial pack 310 is simply glued to a side panel (or any panel) of the corresponding bulk pack 110. Again, the seal 112 on the bulk pack remains intact while the trial lenses are used. An address window or mailing label 602 is provided on the outer envelope, as described above with reference to FIG. 4.

FIG. 7 illustrates another possibility, in which the bulk pack box 700 is formed to include a pocket into which the trial pack 310 can be slotted. This may help avoid damage to the trial packs in transit, and may eliminate the need for an envelope around the trial strip. Of course, the box 700 may be more complex to manufacture, and thus more costly, than box 210 of FIG. 2.

FIG. 8 illustrates some of the supply processes enabled by use of the packs described above. Parties to the first process are the manufacturer or other provider P and wearer A. Wearer A knows his or her own prescription and uses the provider's website or other channel to place an order 802 for packs of the prescription appropriate to each eye. Payment is made by credit card or the like. Provider P despatches a pack 804 by mail or courier, containing bulk packs of the correct prescription, together with associated trial packs. Pack 804 may have the form shown in FIG. 4 or FIG. 6, for example.

Optionally, wearer A sets up a standing order for the supply of further packs 806, 808, at pre-arranged intervals corresponding to the number of lenses in each pack. It is a matter to be determined by the provider whether every pack after the first pack contains a trial pack, or only the first pack for a given customer/prescription.

In another processes, wearer B first visits 820 an ophthalmologist or similar intermediary O, for example in a high street store, to establish his/her prescription and suitability for daily lenses. The intermediary O then places the order 822 with provider P. Thereafter, the first pack of lenses 824, with trial lenses included, is shipped to wearer B. Again, wearer B tries the trial lenses for a few days, before breaking the seal on either bulk pack. Payment may be made at least initially to the intermediary in this case, or payment details may be passed to the provider P. Again, there is the option to set up a standing order, which may be managed by the intermediary if they prefer, or directly by the provider.

Furthermore, even where supply is direct from the provider P to the wearer, branding of the intermediary can be used on the packaging, invoices and so forth. This will maintain the illusion of a bespoke service, while allowing the economies of direct supply and mass manufacture to be maintained.

In any of these scenarios, if the trial lenses are not successful, the wearer (B in this illustration) can return 826 the bulk packs to the provider unopened using the package and return label included. A refund of payment can be provided, because the label will allow identification of the original order. Notification can be passed automatically to the intermediary to arrange for appropriate follow-up contact.

It will be appreciated that the invention opens up many different supply scenarios, combining elements of those described and other features. As well as benefits to the wearer from accessing a safe, low-cost supply, intermediaries can benefit by combining the advantages of direct supply with the best features of their value-added services.

The skilled person will further appreciate that the exact form of components and methods used can vary from the ones described herein without departing from the spirit and scope of invention.