With Halloween right around the corner, everyone has started to prepare their costumes and gather the props needed for them, but the FDA is warning against ‘illegal’ colored contact lenses you might be considering for that extra ‘Wow’ to your costume.
Decorative and colored contact lenses are extremely popular during Halloween as they enhance the feel of a costume or character a person is trying to convey. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued warning against colored contacts saying they could be unsafe.
A statement issued by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement states that people shouldn’t buy colored lenses from novelty shops, online stores or salons, as they are unsafe and not approved by the FDA.
“Our concern is that consumers who buy and use decorative contact lenses without a valid prescription can run significant risks of eye injuries, including blindness,” said John Roth, director of FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations. “It is always better to involve a qualified eye care professional and protect your vision.”
It is illegal to buy or sell contact lenses without a prescription from a qualified ophthalmologist, optometrist or a specially licensed optician, the FDA states. Without prescription, these lenses can cost as little as $20.
The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Office of Criminal Investigations (OCI), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) and other federal agencies are working together to cease the usage and sale of fake contact lenses.
“Contact lenses are a medical device and it is smart to purchase them from a medical professional who will fit them to your eye and provide you with instruction on the use and care of the lenses,” said Dr. Glenda Brown, president and a member of the Georgia Optometric Association in a news release. “Consumers who buy lenses that were manufactured and sold illegally can experience infections, corneal ulcers and even blindness. A lifetime of good vision is so much more important than a cheap Halloween accessory.”
Decorative contact lenses go by several names. Some of them are:
- Fashion contact lenses
- Halloween contact lenses
- Color contact lenses
- Cosmetic contact lenses
- Theatre contact lenses
If you have any of the symptoms or signs listed below, you need to see a licensed eye doctor (optometrist or ophthalmologist) because an eye infection can become serious and you can go blind if it’s not treated properly.
The risks include:
- A cut or scratch on the top layer of your eyeball (Corneal Abrasion)
- Allergic reactions like itchy, watery red eyes
- Decreased vision
- Pain in the eye(s) that doesn’t go away after a short period of time
- Decreased vision
“Even though Halloween approaches, consumers shouldn’t let a good deal or great costume blind them to the dangers of counterfeit decorative contact lenses,” James Dinkins, executive associate director of the Homeland Security Investigations, said in a statement. “What’s truly scary is the damage these counterfeit lenses can do to your eyes for a lifetime.”
Warning Against Halloween Contact Lenses
Even though the lenses can change eyes to look weird for Halloween, the frightening effects may be more permanent. Ohio Attorney General, Mike DeWine, said, There are people who have lost their sight, infections, or scratched the eyes severely through these decorative lenses.