(WBCD) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is sending out a warning this Halloween to people planning on wearing decorative contact lenses as part of their costume. According to the FDA, a prescription is needed to avoid eye injury.
Before buying decorative lenses, here’s what you should know:
Contact lenses are not cosmetics or over-the-counter merchandise. They are medical devices regulated by the FDA. Places that advertise them as cosmetics or sell them over-the-counter, without a prescription, are breaking the law.
They are not “one size fits all.” An eye doctor must measure each eye to properly fit the lenses and evaluate how your eye responds to contact lens wear.
A poor fit can cause serious eye damage, including:
- scratches on the cornea (the clear dome of tissue over the iris—the part of the eye that gives you your eye color)
- corneal infection (an ulcer or sore on the cornea)
- conjunctivitis (pink eye)
- decreased vision
Places that sell decorative lenses without a prescription may give you few or no instructions on how to clean and care for your lenses.
Failure to use the proper solution to keep contact lenses clean and moist can lead to infections, says Bernard P. Lepri, O.D., M.S., M.Ed., an FDA optometrist in the agency’s Contact Lens and Retinal Devices Branch.
FDA is aware that many places illegally sell decorative contact lenses to consumers without valid prescriptions for as little as $20.
Where NOT to Buy Contact Lenses
- street vendors
- salons or beauty supply stores
- flea markets
- novelty stores
- Halloween stores
- record or video stores
- convenience stores
- beach shops
- Internet sites that do not require a prescription
If you find a Web site you think is illegally selling contact lenses over the Web, you should report it to FDA.
Click here for more information on how to safely wear decorative contact lenses