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Written by San Fernando Valley Sun   
Thursday, 25 October 2012 06:12

Ophthalmologists Warn Parents And Teens On The Dangers Of Decorative Contact Lenses When Purchased Without A Prescription

Your Halloween costume has come together after careful thought and lots of planning. And the last thing you need to complete it is a pair of contact lenses to change the color or shape of your eyes. But you should look twice before putting just anything on your peepers.

Popular Halloween products can lead to eye damage and vision loss, which is why the American Academy of Ophthalmology is warning parents and teens about the dangers of non-prescription decorative contact lenses.

Lenses such as blood drenched vampire eyes, glow-in-the-dark lizard eyes and more, have become increasingly popular for creating or enhancing costumes.

Unfortunately, decorative contact lenses can also lead to real life nightmares, including permanent eye damage and vision loss.

All contact lenses require a prescription and proper fitting by an eye care professional such as an ophthalmologist – an eye medical doctor. Even if someone has perfect vision, they need to get an eye exam and a prescription in order to wear any kind of contacts, including decorative contact lenses.

Products that claim "one size fits all" or "no need to see an eye specialist" can mislead consumers and may be on the market illegally.

"They may look cool, but I've seen patient after patient who were unaware of the risks of these products and are now living with permanent vision loss," said Thomas Steinemann, M.D., a professor of ophthalmology at Case Western Reserve University and a clinical correspondent for the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

"A teenage girl having to undergo a corneal transplant to save her sight isn't cool. It's devastating to the patient, the parents and to me as a physician," Steinemann said.

In 2005, a federal law classified all contact lenses as medical devices and restricted their distribution to licensed eye care professionals.

Illegal sale of contact lenses can result in civil penalties of up to $11,000 per violation. Additionally, some decorative lenses such as trendy circle lenses are not FDAapproved.

Consumers should only buy decorative contact lenses from an eye care professional or a seller who asks for a prescription and sells FDA-approved products.

To safely wear decorative contact lenses this Halloween or any time of year, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends following these guidelines:

• Get an eye exam from an eye care professional such as an ophthalmologist.

• Obtain a valid prescription that includes the brand name, lens measurements, and expiration date.

• Purchase the decorative contact lenses from a licensed eye care professional or an eye product retailer who asks for a prescription. Follow the directions for cleaning, disinfecting, and wearing the lenses.

• Never share contact lenses with another person.

• Get follow up exams by your eye care provider.

To obtain a prescription for decorative contact lenses, an eye care professional will measure each eye to ensure proper fit.

Contacts that are not fitted by an eye care professional may scratch the eye or cause blood vessels to grow into the cornea.

An eye care professional will also provide contact lens care instructions. Contacts that are left in for too long or that are not cleaned and disinfected can significantly increase the risk of eye infection.

Symptoms of an eye injury or infection from decorative contact lenses might include redness, pain in the eye, or decreased vision. If you have any of these signs, remove the lenses and seek immediate medical attention from an eye care professional. Eye infections like keratitis can quickly become serious and cause blindness if left untreated.

For more information on decorative contact lens safety or to find an Eye M.D., visit OjosSanos (tm) is the Spanish-language version of the program. Visit to learn more.

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 October 2012 08:28