Stores that sell contact lenses without a prescription is illegal. Those who purchase decorative contact lenses as an accessory for a Halloween costume can put their eyes at risk, warns Dr. Brendon J. Weaver from Weaver Eye Care Associates in Bernville.
There are many different designs of Halloween contact lenses out there: crazy, funny, scary, in any color, size and shape imaginable. However, if these lenses are purchased without a prescription from an optometrist, they could lead to blurred vision, red and irritated eyes, and eye infections that can cause irreversible vision loss.
“Whether they correct your vision or not, all contact lenses, including Halloween or decorative-only contacts, are considered medical devices by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA),” said Dr. Brendon J. Weaver in Bernville.
Halloween contacts are commonly sold at Halloween costume stores and flea markets, as well as beauty salons, convenience stores and the Internet. These contact lenses put consumers’ eyes at risk for bacterial infections, allergic reactions, and inflammation, which may then require a medical visit with your local optometrist to treat the corresponding problem.
“Consumers may feel they’re saving money by skipping the trip to the eye doctor to get properly fitted with decorative contact lenses. However, not only do over-the-counter contact lenses pose a higher risk of eye problems, but the consumer’s perceived savings may go right out the window with the numerous office visit co-pays and eye-drop medications prescribed to treat the eye problems resulting from those lenses,” added Dr. Weaver. A video by Weaver on the issue can be viewed at http://youtu.be/hUtw895J6AQ.
According to the AOA’s 2013 American Eye-Q® consumer survey, 17 percent of Americans have worn decorative contact lenses that don’t provide vision correction as part of a costume or for other cosmetic purposes. Of those individuals, 24 percent purchased them without a prescription from a source other than an eye doctor—a great concern to doctors of optometry.
If someone is interested in wearing decorative contact lenses for Halloween, it’s important for the optometrist to examine that person’s eyes to make sure they are healthy enough to support the wear of contact lenses. The optometrist will select the appropriate material, curvature, diameter and power (if corrective vision needed as well in the specialty contacts) to ensure that the lenses are fitting their best and that the patient has the best possible vision and comfort with those lenses.
The American Optometric Association offers the following recommendations for all contact lens wearers:
Wear contact lenses only if they are fitted and prescribed by an optometrist.
Do not purchase contact lenses from gas stations, video stores, websites, or any other place not authorized by law to dispense contact lenses.
Make sure contact lenses are properly cleaned and disinfected as instructed by your eye-care professional.
Make sure you wash your hands before handling and cleaning your contact lenses.
Never swap or share contact lenses with anyone.
Never sleep while wearing contact lenses unless they are extended-wear lenses specifically designed for that purpose.
Information on violations should be well documented and reported to the FTC as quickly as possible with a request for FTC investigation and action. Violations can be reported to the FTC electronically directly through the FTC website, https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov.
If a consumer has been harmed or injured due to the illegal sales of Halloween contact lenses, report the incident to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) through the FDA’s website, http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/HowToReport/ucm085568.htm.