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Focusing on Contact Lens Safety

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Decorative Contact Lenses continued...

"Although unauthorized use of decorative contact lenses is a concern year-round, Halloween is the time when people may be inclined to use them, perhaps as costume accessories," says Saviola.

The problem is not that people use decorative, non-corrective lenses. It's that many go about it the wrong way, which is dangerous.

Prescription required
Just like their corrective counterparts, decorative contacts--sometimes called plano, zero-powered or non-corrective lenses--are regulated by FDA.

"What troubles us is when they are bought and used without a valid prescription, without the involvement of a qualified eye care professional, or without appropriate follow-up care," says Saviola. "This can lead to significant risks of eye injuries, including blindness."

FDA is aware that consumers without valid prescriptions have bought decorative contact lenses from beauty salons, record stores, video stores, flea markets, convenience stores, beach shops and the Internet.

Recent legislation has made it illegal to market decorative contact lenses as over-the-counter products.

Unauthorized contact lenses of all types present risks to the eye that include corneal ulcers, corneal abrasion, vision impairment, and blindness.

If you want decorative contacts

  • Get an eye exam from a licensed eye care professional, even if you feel your vision is perfect.
  • Get a valid prescription that includes the brand and lens dimensions.
  • Buy the lenses from an eye care professional or from a vendor who requires that you provide prescription information for the lenses.
  • Follow directions for cleaning, disinfecting, and wearing the lenses, and visit your eye care professional for follow-up eye exams.

How to Report Problems

For more information about topics for your health, visit the FDA Consumer Information Center (www.fda.gov/consumer). 

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