Don’t risk it! Doctors warn about over-the-counter contacts

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Studies have found chlorine and metal in non-prescription contacts.

AUSTIN, Texas  — Creating a Halloween costume is half the holiday fun, but creative costuming shouldn’t harm you. If you are considering decorative contact lenses as part of your look, know that they may contain harmful chemicals that can cause severe eye injuries, even vision loss.

Despite sales restrictions by the Food and Drug Administration, many decorative lenses of unknown origin can be bought online. Around Halloween, they often crop up for sale at beauty parlors or even gas stations.

The Texas Ophthalmological Association (TOA) warns costume shoppers about over-the-counter decorative lenses after a recent study by Eye and Contact Lens found several varieties tested positive for chlorine and other harmful chemicals. The chemicals may come from colorants used to tint the lenses. These chemicals can harm the eyes by causing corneal ulcers or keratitis.

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Costume Contact Lens Safety Guidelines
To safely wear decorative contact lenses this Halloween or any time of year, the TOA recommends following these guidelines:

  • Only buy decorative contact lenses from retailers who require a prescription and sell FDA-approved products.
  • If you don’t already have a contact lens prescription, obtain a valid prescription and eye exam from an ophthalmologist – a medical doctor who treats eye conditions and diseases – or an optometrist.
  • Even those with perfect vision need to get examined and fitted for the right size contacts by an eye health professional. Ill-fitting lenses can scratch the surface of the eye, creating an opening for infection.
  • Redness, swelling, excessive discharge, pain or discomfort can signal eye infection. If you have these symptoms, immediately see an ophthalmologist. Eye infections can cause blindness if left untreated.
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The study also noted that colorants printed or pressed onto some decorative lenses create an uneven texture. Those rough surfaces could scratch the eyes, potentially allowing in bacteria that can cause infection and even blindness.

“If you’re thinking about wearing decorative contact lenses this year for Halloween, get a prescription from your doctor to avoid risking potential harm to your eyes,” said Dr. Victor Gonzalez, MD, president of the Texas Association of Ophthalmology. “We want everyone to get into the Halloween spirit without risking your vision.” – USNewswire.

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