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October 18, 2019

Pennsylvania warns consumers about dangers of decorative contact lenses

Adult Health Vision
Contacts Halloween U.S. FDA/YouTube

Decorative contact lenses are a popular Halloween costume accessory, but consumers are reminded that they require a prescription. Those who use them or purchase them without appropriate medical care are at risk of serious infections or injuries.

As Halloween approaches, Pennsylvania is warning consumers not to purchase decorative contact lenses without a prescription.

The Wolf administration issued the reminder on Friday that decorative lenses are potentially dangerous, and it remains illegal for retailers to sell them.

“Decorative contact lenses, whether they correct vision or not, require a prescription and should be properly fitted by an eye doctor,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Decorative contact lenses sold without a prescription can cause serious health issues, like blindness, infections or allergic reactions, and can even result in the loss of an eye."

Federal and state law classify contact lenses as medical devices that require a prescription from a licensed physician or optometrist. That requirement also covers a prescription for fitting lenses.

While most popular around Halloween, decorative lenses are also used for fashion, cosmetic and theater wardrobe purposes, putting consumers at risk year-round.

Those who purchase and use decorative lenses should pay attention to symptoms, including redness, swelling, excessive discharge, pain or discomfort. Infections can become serious quickly and sometimes the damage is not reversible. Corneal ulcers and abrasions are a common risk of poorly fitted lenses. 

Anyone who sees improper use or sale of decorative lenses is asked to call the FDA at at (800) FDA-1088 or the Pennsylvania Department of State at (717) 783-1379.

"It is essential that all residents take the necessary steps to keep their eyes healthy and talk with their doctor if they experience any issues with their vision," Dr. Levine said.

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