TV personality Marnie Simpson has been banned from advertising contact lenses being sold in a potentially “unsafe” and “illegal” way.
Simpson, who rose to fame on reality show Geordie Shore, promoted her range of lenses for retailer iSpyEyes on social media.
The posts on Instagram, mentioning blue and Halloween styles, were published in September and October last year.
Although the lenses are non-corrective, by law they must be sold under the supervision of a registered optometrist, optician or medical practitioner.
However, iSpyEyes argued the lenses could be sold across the UK and EU without the supervision of an eyecare practitioner. The company supplied legal advice that the lens were not subject to the Opticians Act 1989 because they were not designed to correct, remedy or relieve a sight defect.
Simpson, through her lawyers, highlighted that her website advises customers to “visit your optician for a lens fitting prior to purchase as all our lenses are one size” and that Simpson was not encouraging unsafe practise because there was another section on site setting out steps on how to wear them safely.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled that customers would wrongly assume that the lenses were being sold legally by Simpson in the UK and that there were no safety concerns if the lenses were bought directly from the retailer.
The ASA said: “We had not seen any evidence that the lenses were being sold by, or under the personal supervision of, a registered optometrist, registered dispensing optician or registered medical practitioner.
“It was therefore illegal for them to be sold from the website iSpyEyes.com to consumers in the UK.”
It continued: “We told iSpyEyes and Marnie Simpson not to encourage an unsafe practice or to imply that they could legally sell zero-powered contact lenses in the UK.”
The ASA cited advice from the Eyecare Trust charity which said lenses which do not properly, extended wear and poor hygiene habits could lead to eye infections, corneal ulcers, abrasions in some cases loss of vision.
The agency also spoke with the General Optical Council (GOC), which confirmed selling the lenses is illegal if not sold by or under the supervision of registered specialists.
A spokesman for Simpson said: “Marnie takes the concerns raised seriously and will address the ASA’s ruling in the proper way.”
Sky News has approached iSpyEyes for comment.
In October 2017, ASA ruled that two Snapchat posts published by Simpson about tooth polish by Diamond Whites and for lenses supplied by iSpyEyes broke advertising rules as they were not clearly marked as adverts.
The two companies agreed ti ensure the adverts would be more transparent in the future.