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Decorative contact lenses can put a scare into Halloween

 

It’s already the middle of October and the time of year when patients often start asking about costume contact lenses.  Many have seen them from online retailers or even at convenience stores and are intrigued to add the look to their Halloween character.  What many people don’t realize is all contact lenses are a medical device, regardless of whether the lenses have refractive correction.  Even when a person does not need corrective prescription, placing a contact lens on the eye can severely compromise eye health if the lenses do not fit properly and are not worn properly.

In fact, it is illegal to distribute corrective, novelty or bogus contact lenses in violation of federal law, names the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act (FCLCA) and Contact Lens Rule.   “All contact lenses, even those that are only intended to change the appearance of the eye. require a prescription,” reads the letter signed by AOA President, Samuel D. Pierce, O.D. “The AOA would like patients to be aware that the Food and Drug Administration regulates contacts as medical devices.  “As such, we believe it is dangerous to consumers to sell such devices to individuals within the United States without appropriate prescriber supervision,” Dr. Pierce adds.

Decorative lenses are particularly popular among young adults and teenagers as accessories to their costumes. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns the public not to buy easily accessible decorative contact lenses from street vendors, salons and beauty supply stores, boutiques, flea markets, seasonal retailers, convenience stores and internet sites that don’t require prescriptions.

The danger of purchasing contact lens at these locations? No prescriptions are required, putting the public’s eye and vision health at risk.

Optometrists are growing increasingly concerned about the risks for patients. Allergic reactions or bacterial eye infections from contaminated, poorly fitted decorative lenses can occur rapidly, causing a painful corneal ulcer or even significant damage to the eye’s ability to function, which could lead to irreversible sight loss. The AOA regularly underscores the essentialness of annual, comprehensive eye examinations.

The last thing we want a patient to deal with is permanent vision loss from what they thought would make a fun halloween costume.  A proper contact lens fitting will ensure the patient understands how to properly wear and care for their lenses.  It also ensures the lenses allow adequate oxygen transmission and are not compromising the corneal surface.  Most people don’t realize the true risk of contact lenses when not worn properly or when eye health is not monitored by their optometrist.

Eyecare Associates encourages any patient that desires to wear contact lenses contact our office.  If costume lenses are desired for Halloween, they must be ordered prior to Friday, October 19.  Call the office at (913)256-2176 and a fitting can be scheduled.  We can fit a variety of patients successfully in contact lenses, including nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism.

Reference: American Optometric Association, 10/04/18. https://www.aoa.org/news/advocacy/decorative-contact-lenses-can-put-scare-into-halloween