“Each Halloween we are reminded of the need for Houston residents to carefully consider the use of non prescription decorative contact lenses as part of their costume,” remarked Dr. Da-Thuy Van, an Ophthalmologist at The Eye Clinic of Texas serving greater Houston & Galveston. “While it can be really fun to change your eye color or make your eyes have stripes or a ghoulish look, Halloween, decorative contact lenses and your eyes may not be a great combination,” stated Dr. Van. “About this time each year we see the result of the Halloween participants who wish to turn their eyes from blue to some far out appearance or ghoulish look by using over-the-counter, decorative contact lenses,” said Dr. Van. “Even someone with perfect vision would still require an eye exam and a prescription in order to wear any kind of contacts, including cosmetic lenses as they are a medical device and improper use can cause sight threatening problems.”
According to the Food and Drug Administration, all contact lenses are regulated medical devices that require a prescription and proper fitting by an eye-care professional. Some websites advertise decorative contacts as if they were fashion accessories or toys with fanciful, playful packaging in order to attract teens and young adults, especially girls. The problem is not that people use decorative, non corrective lenses-sometimes called Plano-or zero-powered lenses, but that they buy the devices without a prescription through unlicensed vendors on the Internet or at flea markets and specialty shops.
The buyer of these over-the-counter contact lenses faces a huge risk including scratched corneas, pink eye and more serious types of blinding infection as a result of a corneal ulcer.
In 2005, a federal law was passed that classified all contact lenses as medical devices and restricted their distribution to licensed eye-care professionals. Illegal sale of contacts can result in civil penalties of up to $11,000 per violation. The safe and effective use of contact lenses-whether decorative or not-requires proper fitting and education about their care to prevent the potential for serious eye problems from becoming a reality.
If you or someone you know would like to learn more about contact lenses of any type including decorative non prescription contact lenses, please call The Eye Clinic of Texas at 800-423-3937, visit The Eye Clinic of Texas or facebook.com/ecot.lasik to schedule an appointment.