Today’s contacts are convenient, comfortable and they successfully correct a wide range of vision problems. But, as an object that fits directly on the surface of your eye, it can create a multitude of problems if not prescribed, worn and cared for correctly.
In the United States, contact lenses are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA has classified them as a medical device and, by law, they can only be sold if the seller is presented with a valid prescription from a legal prescriber.
Any seller that dispenses contact lenses without a valid prescription – beauty supply shops, convenience stores, online retailers, etc – are breaking the law.
All of this culminates in a very meaningful end come October when the leaves change, the temperatures drop and the Halloween costumes come out of moth balls. Every year, people ask about “decorative” contact lenses. You know the ones. They make you look like a cat or an alien or a zombie or some other weird and wonderful creature.
So. Since, like make up, wigs and fairy wings, they are part of the costume, they must not count. Right? You can buy them without a prescription because they are just for fun! Right?
They are still contact lenses. They are still classified as medical devices. And, they still require a legal, signed prescription!
Many of these decorative lenses that have been confiscated by various sources have undergone testing and have been found to contain high levels of bacteria. Some were not in sterile packaging. In some instances, the material used for coloring the lenses have been found to contain lead. Lead has been proven to cause severe neurological conditions and the eye has a direct link to the brain via the optic nerve and the lead is easily absorbed into the ocular tissue from contact lenses not manufactured correctly.
Purchasing costume lenses online or in unapproved shops opens you up to the possibility of many eye damaging and blindness inducing issues.
Most of these lenses – including the properly manufactured ones – are meant to be worn very short-term and, definitely, not overnight! The coloring on them sometimes does not allow a healthy amount of air or fluid to pass through the lens, thereby increasing the possibility of corneal abrasions and ulcers.
Legalities aside, you have to ask yourself if that “finishing touch” to that awesome costume is worth damaging your eyes or losing your sight over.
Please remember, when buying any contact lens: If the vendor does not ask for or require a valid, signed prescription, run as fast as you can in the opposite direction!