COLUMBIA — A creative costume touch for Halloween could bring infection and blindness.
That’s the warning of the U.S. The Food and Drug Administration and other health officials, who issued a news release to highlight the risks of novelty contact lenses and unveil an effort to protect consumers.
“Our concern is that consumers who buy and use decorative contact lenses without a valid prescription can run significant risks of eye injuries, including blindness,” said John Roth, director of the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations. “It is always better to involve a qualified eye-care professional and protect your vision.”
The Office of Criminal Investigations, U.S. Immi-gration and Customs En-forcement, Homeland Security Investigations and U.S. Customs and Border Protection are working to seize counterfeit contact lenses, illegally imported decorative lenses, and lenses with no FDA approval. It’s being called “Operation Double Vision.”
Consumers seeking decorative lenses are advised to get an eye exam from a licensed eye doctor, in order to obtain a valid prescription that includes the brand name, lens measurements and an expiration date. The lenses should come from a seller that requires you to provide a prescription, whether you are purchasing them online or in a store.
Certain products should be avoided. Consumers should not expect their eye doctor to prescribe anime, or circle lenses, which create a wide-eyed, doll-like look, because the FDA has not approved them.
“Contact lenses are a medical device and it is smart to purchase them from a medical professional who will fit them to your eye and provide you with instruction on the use and care of the lenses,” said Glenda Brown, president of the Georgia Optometric Association.
“Consumers who buy lenses that were manufactured and sold illegally can experience infections, corneal ulcers and even blindness. A lifetime of good vision is so much more important than a cheap Halloween accessory.”
If there are any signs of eye infection, including redness, pain or vision problems, the wearer should go to the eye doctor immediately.