For many people, Halloween costumes are serious business. Costumes go beyond clothes, with metallic face paints, colored hairspray, and twilight contacts for the eyes. But the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns that many of those decorative, multi-colored, fashion lenses seen in stores and on websites are being sold illegally, without a prescription. Using them just might put your vision at risk.
These decorative contact lenses do not correct vision. They just change the appearance of the eyes with varying colors and even images such as sports team logos. They are fun and fashionable, but wearing them can have serious consequences. For starters, contacts should fit properly, and only eye doctors, such as an ophthalmologist or optometrist, can measure each eye to properly fit the lenses and evaluate how eyes respond to contact lenses. A poor fit can cause serious eye damage including scratches on the cornea (the top layer of the eyeball), corneal infection (an ulcer on the cornea), conjunctivitis (pink eye), decreased vision, and blindness.
Secondly, places that illegally sell these lenses may provide few or no instructions on how to clean the lenses. Failure to use proper solution to keep contact lenses clean and moist can lead to infections that can grow rapidly and result in ulcers and even blindness in as little as 24 hours.
This holiday season, the FDA wants to remind consumers that contact lenses are not cosmetics or over-the-counter merchandise. They are medical devices regulated by the FDA. Places that advertise them as cosmetics or sell them without a prescription are breaking the law. Consumers who want decorative lenses should get an eye exam from a licensed eye doctor even if they feel their vision is perfect, in order to keep it that way!