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FDA Warns Parents about Dangers of Decorative Contact Lenses

Oct 24, 2014

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning parents about the dangers of decorative contact lenses, which are popular as part of Halloween costumes. Decorative, or cosmetic, lenses, if not properly fitted, can cause permanent eye damage.

Decorative contact lenses do not correct vision. They change the color or appearance of the eyes. These lenses can cause injuries or infections that could result in permanent eye damage or even blindness, the FDA warns.

Decorative contact lenses are sold as cosmetics or fashion accessories, but all contact lenses are classified as medical devices and require a prescription. Though decorative contact lenses are sometimes labeled “one size fits all,” all contact lenses need to be fitted to the individual’s eyes. Selling contact lenses without a prescription is illegal, the FDA notes: “Never buy contact lenses from a street vendor, a beauty supply store, flea market, novelty store or Halloween store.”

The FDA safety alert reminds consumers that any contact lenses, whether cosmetic or vision correcting, pose risks to the user. The risks include:

  • A cut or scratch to the top layer of the eyeball (corneal abrasion)
  • Allergic reactions like itchy, watery, red eyes
  • Decreased vision
  • Infection
  • Blindness

The FDA says consumers can protect their eye health by obtaining any type of contact lenses through a doctor and carefully following instructions for cleaning and disinfecting the lenses.

Contact lens wearers should be aware of the signs of injury or infection. Any lens wearer who experiences redness, eye pain, discharge, or decreased vision should see an optometrist or ophthalmologist immediately to prevent serious eye damage or possibly blindness.

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