Wearing OTC Costume Color Contact Lenses Is A Risk
It is October 2022, and this means Halloween. It is a time to have fun, and express and show your creativity. However, the American Academy of Ophthalmology wants to increase awareness about the potential of going blind due to costume contact lens accessories. It is important that the public is aware of the risk of wearing costume contact lenses, with colors, that are non-prescription lenses. These lenses that are illegally sold as cosmetic lenses may not be sterile and therefore can cause a host of serious eye problems capable of turning a Halloween fun night into a nightmare on its own. Issues like eye infections and corneas with scratches may result in blindness.
The FDA classifies all contact lenses as medical devices. Therefore, by law, it is illegal to sell any contact lenses without a prescription in the United States. During Halloween, an individual can purchase color contact lenses online, in novelty shops, beauty salons, and in Halloween stores. It is important to note that any contact lenses sold without a prescription are breaking the law and carry a fine for violating the law.
Contact Lenses With Color
There are no exceptions to the law when it comes to contact lenses. Consequently, individuals with perfect vision must get an eye exam and a prescription from an eye care professional before they can wear contact lenses, This requirement also applies to color contact lenses for Halloween. Having an exam guarantees that the lens fits properly and is a proper fit for your eye. Lenses that do not fit properly may be difficult to put in, and remove and can cause serious injury.
There are many retailers breaking the law. Since 2005 it has been illegal to sell contact lenses without a prescription in the U.S. Federal law in the U.S. classifies all contact lenses as medical devices and restricts their distribution to eye care professionals with licenses. The illegal sale of contact lenses can result in civil penalties of up to $16,000 per violation. Contact the FDA if you see or believe a retailer is selling contact lenses without a prescription, and report the retailer to the FDA.
Issues With Illegally Sold Contact Lenses (American Academy of Ophthalmology)
- Illegally sold circle lenses bypass several crucial safeguards
- No instructions and training on lens fitting, wear and care that is specific to you, your eyes, and the contacts you are prescribed.
- Counterfeit lenses are common if you’re buying through an illegal outlet
- Some illegal lenses have even been found to be re-packaged and can be contaminated with chemicals or germs when you receive them.
- If the retailer or seller is not approved/regulated by the FDA there is no guarantee that the lenses meet the FDA quality requirements; not clear, fit properly, and correct size, or shape for your eyes.
Colored Contact Lenses Risks:
- Increase the odds of the eye and corneal infections
- Scratches on the cornea
- Pink Eye
- Possible allergic reactions
- Vision impairment
- Potential blindness
- Can slide around on the eye, and can impair vision
Safely wear costume contact lenses with these tips (American Academy of Ophthalmology)
- Get an eye exam from an eye care professional such as an ophthalmologist, or an eye medical doctor who will measure each eye and talk to you about proper contact lens care
- Obtain a valid prescription that includes the brand name, lens measurements, and expiration date.
- Purchase the colored contact lenses from a retailer who asks for a prescription
- Follow the contact lens care directions for cleaning, disinfecting, and wearing the lenses
- Never share contact lenses with another person.
- Get follow-up exams as directed by your eye care provider.
If you experience issues like redness, swelling, excessive discharge, pain, or discomfort due to contact lenses you must remove them immediately and contact your ophthalmologist immediately. This is important because eye infections can become serious in a short period of time and the impact may be irreversible.