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Halloween-themed contacts are danger to vision

PHOENIX — The FDA has been keeping tabs on the sale of theatrical or special-effects contacts since 2005. However, sales of these cosmetic lenses continue especially during the Halloween holiday.

From flea markets to retail shops to the Internet, finding a pair of funky-looking contacts, though illegal, is not impossible, which is a concern for optometrists.

“Infections can take place or sight-threatening things that can happen by wearing those devices, especially if they’re not prescribed by a doctor. Blindness is a possibility,” said Alicia Feis, doctor of optometry at Midwestern University in Glendale.

According to the American Optometric Association, “Risks associated with the improper use of decorative, or prescribed corrective contact lenses include conjunctivitis, swelling, allergic reaction and corneal abrasion due to poor lens fit.

“Additional medical problems may result in a reduction of visual acuity [sight], contrast sensitivity and other general eye and vision impairments.”

The FDA has the following information on its website:
“FDA is aware that many places illegally sell decorative contact lenses to consumers without valid prescriptions for as little as $20.

Never buy lenses from:

• Street vendors

• Salons or beauty supply stores

• Boutiques

• Flea markets

• Novelty stores

• Halloween stores

• Record or video stores

• Convenience stores

• Beach shops

• Internet (unless the site requires a prescription)

These are not authorized distributors of contact lenses, which are prescription devices by federal law.

To learn more about the dangers of theatrical/cosmetic lenses, go to the FDA site or the American Optometric Assocation site.