Friday, October 12, 2012

Texas Ophthalmologists Warn About Dangers of Nonprescription Decorative Contact Lenses

Popular Halloween products can lead to eye damage and vision loss

Dr. Bourgeois says nonprescription
novelty contact lenses could
permanently damage your eyes 
Decorative contact lenses may look cool with your Halloween costume, but they are not worth risking permanent vision loss,” says Keith A. Bourgeois, MD, president of the Texas Ophthalmological Association, member of the Texas Medical Association (TMA), and former chair of the TMA Council on Socioeconomics. “As an ophthalmologist, I can’t stress enough how dangerous it is to use these products without a proper fitting and prescription from an eye care professional.”

As kids across the state shop for their Halloween costumes, the Texas Ophthalmological Association and the American Academy of Ophthalmology are warning Texas parents and teens about the dangers of non-prescription decorative contact lenses. Decorative contact lenses are increasingly popular to create elaborate costumes, offering blood drenched vampire eyes, glow-in-the-dark lizard eyes and more. Unfortunately, decorative contact lenses can also lead to real life nightmares, including permanent eye damage and vision loss.

All contact lenses require a prescription and proper fitting by an eye care professional such as an ophthalmologist an eye medical doctor. Even someone with perfect vision needs to get an eye exam and a prescription to wear any kind of contacts, including decorative contact lenses. Products that claim “one size fits all” or “no need to see an eye specialist” can mislead consumers and may be on the market illegally.

In 2005, a federal law classified all contact lenses as medical devices and restricted their distribution to licensed eye care professionals. Illegal sale of contact lenses can result in civil penalties of up to $11,000 per violation. Additionally, some decorative lenses, such as trendy circle lenses, are not Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved. Consumers should buy decorative contact lenses only from an eye care professional or a seller who asks for a prescription and sells FDA-approved products.

To safely wear decorative contact lenses this Halloween or any time of year, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends following these guidelines:
  • Get an eye exam from an eye care professional such as an ophthalmologist.
  • Obtain a valid prescription that includes the brand name, lens measurements, and expiration date.
  • Purchase the decorative contact lenses from a licensed eye care professional or an eye product retailer who asks for a prescription.
  • Follow the directions for cleaning, disinfecting, and wearing the lenses.
  • Never share contact lenses with another person.
  • Get follow-up exams by your eye care provider.
To obtain a prescription for decorative contact lenses, an eye care professional will measure each eye to ensure proper fit. Contacts that are not fitted by an eye care professional may scratch the eye or cause blood vessels to grow into the cornea. An eye care professional will also provide contact lens care instructions. Contacts left in for too long or that are not cleaned and disinfected can significantly increase the risk of eye infection.

Symptoms of an eye injury or infection from decorative contact lenses might include redness, pain in the eye, or decreased vision. If you have any of these signs, remove the lenses and seek immediate medical attention from an eye care professional. Eye infections like keratitis can quickly become serious and cause blindness if left untreated.

Read a patient story on the dangers of decorative contact lenses and watch the public safety announcement below:

Those who notice redness, irritation, or discomfort from wearing contact lenses should make an appointment with an ophthalmologist immediately. For more information on decorative contact lens safety or to find an eye physician, visit

1 comment :

Unknown said...

Just to be clear though, prescribed ones are alright? I have a few colored contacts I got from my ophthalmologist in Elmhurst IL.

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