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FDA report warns of danger involving decorative contacts and how to avoid it

This Halloween season, remember the risk involved with using contacts without prescription when preparing your costume.
Blue eye photo from Stroma Medical Facebook page

Most people like their Halloween costumes to be as accurate as possible, but changing your eye color to match it is potentially more dangerous that most aspects of costuming.

An FDA report from July 31st details the dangers of decorative contact lenses and how to avoid damage when looking for the right non-corrective lenses.

First of all, FDA warns against purchasing contact lenses over-the-counter or as cosmetics, as they are a regulated medical device, which means it is against the law to sell them in this manner.

Secondly, contact lenses are not “one size fits all”. An eye doctor must measure your eye to properly fit the lens in your eye and judge how your eye reacts to it. Poor contact lens fitting can cause serious damage, including cornea scratches, corneal infection, conjunctivitis, decreased vision, and blindness.

In addition, sellers of non-prescription lenses may give inadequate instruction of how to clean and care for contacts. Failure to do so can lead to infection, which causes further eye problems.

Regarding where non-prescription lenses are commonly sold, the FDA recommends to avoid purchasing contacts from street vendors, salons, beauty stores, boutiques, flea markets, novelty stores, Halloween stores, record or video stores, convenience stores, beach shops, and Internet shops that do not require a prescription. Places like these are not authorized to distribute contact lenses. In addition, the FDA also says that some lenses sold in this manner may be counterfeit products not approved by the administration. You can talk with your eye care provider if you have questions. If you find a website you think is illegally selling contact lenses over the internet, you should report it to FDA.

To safely wear decorative contacts, the FDA says to take these steps:

  • Get an eye exam from a licensed eye doctor, even if you have no known vision problems.
  • Get a valid prescription
  • Buy lenses from a seller that requires a prescription
  • Follow all guidelines for cleaning, disinfecting, and wearing the lens.
  • See your doctor right away if you have eye redness, eye pain that lingers, or a decrease in vision. These are possible signs of eye infection.