FDA warns against buying colored, non-prescription contacts

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The Food and Drug Administration is advising Halloween-costumers to use caution when it comes to decorative contact lenses.

According to a statement by the FDA, contact lenses are regulated medical devises and are not cosmetics or over-the-counter merchandise. “Stores that advertise them as cosmetics or sell them without a prescription are breaking the law.”

Also, ill-fitting lenses can damage the eye. The FDA said an eye doctor must measure each eye to make a proper fit. Lenses that aren’t correctly fitted can lead to damages like scratches on the cornea, pink eye, decreased vision, or blindness.

Optometrist at the FDA, Bernard Lepri, O.D., M.S., M.Ed, said that bacterial infections can cause several injuries very quickly, “sometimes within as little as 24 hours if not diagnosed and treated promptly.”

“The problem isn’t with the decorative contacts themselves, it’s the way people use them improperly,” said Lepri. “Without a valid prescription, without the involvement of a qualified eye care professional, or without appropriate follow-up care.”

The FDA advises that consumers do not purchase lenses from street vendors, salons or cosmetics stores, flea markets, Halloween stores, novelty stores, boutiques, convenience stores, beach shops, or the internet – unless the site requires a prescription.