Dangers of Cosmetic Contact Lenses


Halloween is around the corner and you want to be a vampire.  You have found a place online to purchase some ‘blood red’ contact lenses.  You get caught up in the excitement and figure it’s harmless.  But is it?

Decorative contact lenses typically don’t correct vision.  They can be used to change a person’s eye color for cosmetic reasons, or to create a special effect.  Sales of these novelty lenses spike during the Halloween season.

Consumers often believe this means cosmetic lenses are a harmless addition to their wardrobe.  But nothing could be further from the truth.  Improper cosmetic contact lens use can result in a variety of problems, including complete and permanent loss of vision.  Before you buy make sure you know about the possible dangers of these lenses:

                    -Allergic reaction to the lenses

                    -Pink eye

                    -Corneal scratches

                    -Trouble with reduced visual acuity and contrast sensitivity

                    -Corneal ulcers which can lead to infection, scarring, vision impairment, blindness or even loss of the affected eye.

 An eye care professional must measure the eyes for proper fit and dispense a prescription for lenses to curb the risk of infection.  Even though cosmetic contact lenses are typically not used for vision correction, they are still held to the same FDA standards as regular contact lenses.  They should be sold to you only after a qualified eye professional has performed a proper fitting and issued a prescription.

 Decorative contact lenses can be bought without a prescription on the internet.  They are also sold in record stores, beauty salons, flea markets and souvenir shops.  Don’t take shortcuts and jeopardize your eye health.  If a vendor does not require a prescription, take your business elsewhere.  Any company that does not ask for a contact lens prescription is breaking the law.  The dangers of eye infections are much greater using over-the-counter cosmetic contact lenses because normal safety barriers are missing—doctors are left out of the loop with fitting contact lenses from reputable manufacturers with patients.

 Your eye doctor should instruct you on how to wear cosmetic contact lenses correctly, including when to wear them and when to remove them.  Novelty lenses should be cared for in the same manner as regular contact lenses.  Your eye doctor should give you instruction how to care for your lenses.  Make sure you know how to clean, disinfect and store them properly to keep your eyes from being harmed.  Schedule a follow-up appointment with your eye doctor to be sure your lenses are not causing any problems.

 The FDA continues to warn consumers about the dangers of wearing decorative contact lenses without a prescription.  Make sure you understand the dangers of misusing contact lenses.  NEVER share contact lenses with anyone else.  This can lead to the spread of infection and can cause serious vision complications.

There’s no reason you can’t shock your neighbors with neon, spiral, bloodshot, cat or wolf eyes on Halloween.  Just make sure you take time to schedule an eye exam and contact lens fitting – and follow your doctor’s directions.  Your eyesight could depend on it!


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