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Beware of Illegal Decorative Halloween Contact Lenses

Patients Beware: Buying Decorative Halloween Contact Lenses without a Prescription is Risky

Hillsborough, NJ, October 9, 2018–In the spirit of Halloween, the American Optometric Association (AOA) and Dr. Barbara Tarbell and Assoc./Advanced Eyecare & Vision Gallery are warning people about a real fright – damage from wearing un-prescribed decorative lenses. According to the AOA’s American Eye-Q® survey, 26 percent of Americans who have worn non-corrective, decorative contact lenses purchased them without a prescription from a source other than an eye doctor. While decorative lenses may be a trendy way for patients to alter the appearance or color of their eyes, these practices can cause serious eye health issues and may even permanently damage eyesight.

All contact lenses are classified as medical devices by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and require a valid prescription. Optometrists are growing increasingly concerned about how accessible decorative contact lenses are and the risks for patients who purchase them from unregulated sources, such as costume shops, gas stations and online retailers. 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.

“Decorative contact lenses may seem like a fun accessory, but if you’re not careful, they can cause serious eye and vision problems,” said Dr. Tarbell, OD, FAAO. “Unfortunately, many patients mistakenly believe they don’t need a prescription for decorative contact lenses. It’s extremely important that patients get an eye exam and only wear contact lenses, with or without vision correction, that are prescribed for and fitted to your eyes by an optometrist.”

With Halloween right around the corner, Dr. Tarbell has compiled three tips to ensure eye health and safety are a priority:

  • See an optometrist for decorative lenses, even if you have 20/20 vision! O.D.s can properly fit your lenses and give you a comprehensive exam to assess total eye health.
  • Don’t share your lenses with friends or family members so they can perfect their costume. This will spread bacteria and germs.
  • No matter how tired you are after the Halloween festivities, do not sleep in your contacts and give your eyes a break.

For more information about how to wear and care contact lenses safely, visit www.aoa.org/contact-lenses.

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About the American Optometric Association (AOA):
The American Optometric Association, a federation of state, student and armed forces optometric associations, was founded in 1898. Today, the AOA is proud to represent the profession of optometry, America’s family eye doctors, who take a leading role in an individual’s overall eye and vision care, health and well-being. Doctors of optometry (ODs) are the independent primary health care professionals for the eye and have extensive, ongoing training to examine, diagnose, treat and manage disorders, diseases and injuries that affect the eye and visual system, providing two-thirds of primary eye care in the U.S. For information on a variety of eye health and vision topics, and to find an optometrist near you, visit www.aoa.org.