Spooky contact lenses can be unsafe

SACRAMENTO - The California Board of Optometry is warning consumers about using decorative Halloween contact lenses without a prescription.When not fitted properly or when purchased with a prescription from an eye care professional, costume contacts can damage the eye. Types of injuries associated with improper wear of decorative lenses range from painful irritation and redness to infection, scratched cornea, impaired vision, and, in severe cases, loss of eyesight. "Costume lenses are especially popular among teens and young adults, who may not know the risks involved with unsanitary lenses, swapping of lenses, and not having contact lenses properly fitted, said" Mona Maggio, executive officer for the Board of Optometry. Blood red vampire eyes, 'rave' lenses that glow under a black light, and cat eyes are some of the popular lenses sold as accessories as Halloween costumes. However, decorative contact lenses, like all contact lenses, are considered medical devices and must be obtained with a prescription written by a licensed optometrist or an ophthalmologist. Frequently, cosmetic contact lenses are sold in flea markets, novelty shops, Halloween costume stores, the Internet, and even gas stations without a prescription, but this is against the law. According to the Federal Trade Commission, businesses that sell cosmetic contact lenses must verify that consumers have a prescription. Many people mistakenly believe that zero-powered cosmetic contact lenses cannot pose the same eye health risks as corrective prescription contact lenses, but they can, Maggio said.

********** Published: October 28, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 28