HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — Great Halloween costumes come down to the details. But if you’re thinking about finishing off your costume by wearing cosmetic contact lenses to give your eyes a new look, you’ll want to keep reading.
Photo provided by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
The vast majority of such lenses are actually both illegal and dangerous.
The lenses, which can change the way your eye looks without correcting your vision, may seem like just another fashion accessory, but the reality is all contacts require a prescription.
Anyone who sells you such lenses without first looking at your prescription or getting information from your optometrist is selling them illegally.
And that’s extremely dangerous for you. Contacts that don’t fit can have scary consequences, including conjunctivitis (pink eye), scratches and sores on the cornea, even blindness. The dye in the contacts can also permanently impair vision and, because they are one-size-fits-all, if they are too tight, they can cut off oxygen to the eye or scratch it.
In addition, most of the lenses sold in stores are not approved by the FDA.
To give you an idea of just how harmful these things are, they’re being carefully monitored by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Together, they have combined efforts to seize hundreds of thousands of pairs of counterfeit, illegal and unapproved contact lenses in years past.
Lindsey Kentner, Optometrist at MyEyeDr. in Harrisonburg, told WHSV previously that “These are medical devices and a lot of these lenses that are bought online or are at shops are not FDA-approved. Even worse yet, sometimes they’re bought overseas and they’ll ship them to the US and they don’t even have an FDA over there.”
Kentner said that not everyone will experience negative side effects if they wear these lenses, but those who do may face long-term problems with vision.
If you do want to go the decorative route, Kentner says it’s best to check in with your optometrist. That way, they can show you some that are FDA-approved and find ones that will be the best fit for you.
In fact, not only is that the best route, it’s the only legal route. The Federal Trade Commission enforces the Contact Lens Rule, which requires your eye doctor to give you your prescription – whether you ask for it or not – at no extra charge. That lets you shop around for the best deal.