Halloween means big business for a variety of stores as adults and children search for the perfect costume and accessories to transform themselves into a character or superhero for a day. However, the American Optometric Association (AOA) is warning consumers about the risks of wearing “decorative” or “colored” contact lenses without a prescription from an eye doctor. These non-corrective lenses, which are designed only to change the appearance of the eyes, are easily accessible to consumers and are especially popular around Halloween.

Federal law requires the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate decorative lenses as medical devices, exactly like corrective lenses.  However, decorative lenses continue to be illegally marketed and distributed directly to consumers through a variety of sources, including flea markets, the Internet, beauty salons and convenience stores. Consumers can also find them at gas stations and some retail outlets.

According to the AOA, only a comprehensive eye and vision health evaluation from an eye doctor can determine whether or not patients are viable candidates to wear contact lenses, if they are capable of wearing lenses without problems, and that the lenses fit properly.

Decorative contacts are a concern all year long, but Halloween is a time when the frequency of use is highest.  Consumers who purchase lenses without a prescription or without consultation from an eye doctor put themselves at risk of serious bacterial infection with damage to the eye and potential for irreversible vision loss.  The risks with the improper use of decorative contact lenses specifically include conjunctivitis, swelling, allergic reaction, corneal ulceration and corneal abrasion due to poor lens fit.

Even though they carry no prescription, and may be worn for short periods of time, decorative contact lenses worn without a proper fit carry a much greater risk than those properly fit.  Because of this, it’s important for consumers utilizing these lenses to familiarize themselves with the information available from an eye doctor, so as to reduce the risk of infection.  It is important to have an optometrist evaluate and fit the decorative lenses, educate the patient on proper handling and disinfection, and then perform a follow up evaluation to make sure the patient’s eyes are tolerating the lenses and remaining healthy.

If you have questions or concerns about decorative or colored contact lenses or would like to be fit, please contact our offices in Stillwater, at 405-372-1715, or Pawnee, at 918-762-2573.   We also invite you to visit our website at www.cockrelleyecare.com and like us on Facebook at Cockrell Eye Care Center!

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