October 30, 2012
Halloween celebrations are often a time to dress like your favorite star or a creature of the night, which means altering your appearance. Some choose to do this by wearing decorative contact lens to make sure they fit the role. But choosing to change the look of your eyes can sometimes come with consequences, sometimes resulting permanent damage. The FDA has recently released a notice cautioning users of decorative lenses.
Decorative contact lenses are meant to change the look of your eye, not correct you vision. They are sometimes called:
- Fashion contact lenses
- Halloween contact lenses
- Color contact lenses
- Cosmetic contact lenses
- Theatre contact lenses
While the names might not make it clear, these are medical devices! The FDA oversees their regulation just like other medical devices. Just as you would not purchase your regular contacts from anyone off the street, you should not purchase your decorative lenses from just any place. You should not buy them at a street vendor, beauty supply store, flea market, novelty ship or Halloween store – you should see your doctor for a prescription.
Know the Risks
Just as regular contacts can cause eye problems, decorative contacts can cause problems too. Risks include:
- A cut or scratch on the top layer of your eyeball (Corneal Abrasion)
- Allergic reactions like itchy, watery red eyes
- Decreased vision
When wearing any type of contact lenses, be aware of signs of possible eye infection, which include:
- Pain in the eye(s) that doesn't go away after a short period of time
- Decreased vision
If you have any of these signs, you need to see a licensed eye doctor (optometrist or ophthalmologist) right away! An eye infection could become serious and cause you to become blind if it is not treated.
You can avoid some of these risks by getting any type of contact lenses from your doctor. Be sure to follow the directions for cleaning, disinfecting, and wearing the lenses that your doctor gives you. If your doctor doesn't give you any directions — ask for them!
Dos and Don'ts
Do get an eye exam! A licensed eye doctor will examine your eyes to make sure the contact lenses fit properly. The fit of your contact lenses is very important. A wrong fit can cause damage to your eyes. Be sure to always go for follow-up eye exams.
Do get a prescription! Your eye doctor will write you a prescription for all contact lenses, including decorative lenses. The prescription should include the brand name, correct lens measurements and expiration date.
Do follow the contact lens care instructions! Follow the instructions for wearing, cleaning and disinfecting your contact lenses that come with your contact lenses. If you do not receive instructions, ask an eye doctor for them.
Do seek medical attention right away and remove your contact lenses if your eyes are red, have ongoing pain or discharge! Redness, pain and discharge from the eyes are signs of an eye infection. If you think you have an eye infection from your contact lenses, remove them and see an eye doctor right away.
Don't share your contact lenses with anyone else! You wouldn't share your toothbrush would you? All eyes are not the same size and shape and your contact lenses are fitted just for you.
Don't buy any contact lenses without a prescription! If you don't see an eye doctor and get a prescription, then the contact lenses you get may not fit properly and may not work well. They could even damage your eyes. Sometimes wearing contact lenses can damage the top layer of your eyeball (cornea). Even if you aren't having any problems now, the lenses still could be causing damage to your eyes. By having regular check ups and buying contact lenses with a prescription, you will reduce the chances of any undetected damage to your eyes.
Buying Decorative Contact Lenses
You can buy contact lenses, including decorative contact lenses, from an eye care doctor, on the Internet or from a mail-order company. It's very important that you only buy contact lenses from a company that sells FDA-cleared or approved contact lenses and requires you to provide a prescription.
Anyone selling you contact lenses must get your prescription and verify it with your doctor. They should request not only the prescription, but the name of your doctor and their phone number. If they don't ask for this information they are breaking federal law and could be selling you illegal contact lenses.
Remember — Buying contact lenses without a prescription is dangerous!
Right now there are a lot of products that you can buy without a prescription but they may not be safe or legal. Never buy contact lenses from a street vendor, a beauty supply store, flea market, novelty store or Halloween store.
It's your job to make sure you protect your eyes by having an eye exam, getting a prescription and buying contact lenses from a legal source.
Content from the FDA - http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/HomeHealthandConsumer/ConsumerProducts/ContactLenses/ucm270953.htm