Here’s How to Find Out if Your Halloween Contact Lenses are Illegal: Safety Pearls for Patients & Parents.
Spooky contact lenses can complete your Halloween costume. But beware of the dangers of illegal costume contact lenses lurking on store shelves and invading online retailers. Though the federal government works to keep illegal and harmful versions of decorative or color contact lenses off the shelves, they can still be purchased at costume shops, gas stations, corner shops and online.
Here’s an easy way to tell if your lenses are counterfeit: Can you purchase them without a prescription? If the answer is yes, those creepy lenses are a danger to your vision. That's why the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Regional Eye Associates are urging people to buy decorative contact lenses only from retailers who require a prescription and sell FDA-approved products.
It’s easy to forget that decorative lenses are medical devices, not costume jewelry. They must be prescribed and fitted by an eye care professional, just like regular contact lenses. That's because a poorly fitted contact lens can easily scrape the cornea, the outer layer of the eye, making the eye more vulnerable to infection-causing bacteria and viruses. Research shows that people who purchase contacts without a prescription face a 16-fold increased risk of developing an infection.
To help ensure you won’t be haunted by a ghoulish and painful contact lens-related eye infection, the Academy offers the following tips:
Never share contacts. Sharing contacts can spread germs and bacteria, potentially causing blinding corneal infections and even pink eye. Again, contact lenses not fitted for your eye can cause vision-threatening damage.
"We are increasingly concerned with the potential for over-the-counter contact lenses to cause permanent vision loss. Remember, contact lenses are medical devices, not costume jewelry," says Ravi D Goel, MD. "Halloween is a time of celebration, and we don't want patients to experience infection, red eye, or worse from harmful lenses. Only buy FDA-approved contact lenses."
To learn more ways to keep your eyes healthy, visit the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s EyeSmart® website.