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Press Releases Pennsylvania Optometric Association
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contacts:
Deborah Blanchard
O: 717-233-6455
Deb@poaeyes.org

Decorative Contact Lenses

Selling contact lenses without a prescription is illegal and can put consumers’ eye health at risk

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (October 15, 2013) - Halloween is all about trick-or-treating and finding a creative costume, but consumers need to keep their health and safety first. Some Halloween enthusiasts may wear decorative contact lenses, which can change a person's eye color or create the effect of being a character like a cat, zombie or vampire. However, if these lenses are sold illegally without a prescription from your eye doctor, they could lead to serious health issues and potentially damage your eyesight. The Pennsylvania Optometric Association (POA) recommends talking to your optometrist and obtaining a prescription before incorporating decorative contact lenses into your costume.

All contact lenses are classified as medical devices by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and require a valid prescription, whether they correct your vision or are worn simply for a special occasion, like Halloween, proms or weddings. Even though these are non-corrective lenses, they still pose the same potential health and safety risks as other contact lenses.

However, some decorative lenses are sold illegally through flea markets, the Internet, beauty salons, convenience stores and even national retailers. The POA warns that you should never contacts from any store or website that doesn't require an eye doctor's prescription. If you can walk in off the street or log-on to a website and buy them without verification of your prescription, the lenses are not being sold legally.

When sold illegally, decorative contact lenses can put people at risk for bacterial infections, allergic reactions, or even significant damage to the eye's ability to function, with the potential for irreversible sight loss. Numerous cases of serious harm have been documented.

According to the AOA's 2013 American Eye-Q® consumer survey, 17 percent of Americans have worn decorative contact lenses that don't provide vision correction as part of a costume or for other cosmetic purposes. Of those individuals, 24 percent purchased them illegally without a prescription from a source other than an eye doctor - a great concern to doctors of optometry, who work to ensure your eyes remain healthy.

It's important to have a medical eye and vision examination from your optometrist to be sure you are a good candidate for decorative contact lenses and your cornea can safely tolerate the lenses. Your eye doctor will also make sure your lenses fit properly and teach you how to safely care for your lenses to reduce the risk of infection or other serious side effects.

The POA offers the following recommendations for all contact lens wearers:

  • Wear contact lenses only if they are fitted and prescribed by an optometrist.
  • Do not purchase contact lenses from gas stations, video stores, websites, or any other place not authorized by law to dispense contact lenses.
  • Make sure contact lenses are properly cleaned and disinfected as instructed by your eye-care professional.
  • Make sure you wash your hands before handling and cleaning your contact lenses.
  • Never swap or share contact lenses with anyone.
  • Never sleep while wearing contact lenses unless they are extended-wear lenses specifically designed for that purpose.

For more information about the risks associated with decorative contact lenses, or to find additional resources about contact lens hygiene and safety, please visit our Contact Lens page. To find an optometrist in your area, visit www.poaeyes.org.

 

About the American Eye-Q Survey:
The eighth annual American Eye-Q® survey was created and commissioned in conjunction with Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates (PSB). From March 15-18, 2013 using an online methodology, PSB interviewed 1,000 Americans 18 years and older who embodied a nationally representative sample of U.S. general population. (Margin of error at 95 percent confidence level)

About the Pennsylvania Optometric Association (POA):
The Pennsylvania Optometric Association is the professional organization for over 1,250 doctors of optometry in Pennsylvania. An affiliate of the American Optometric Association, POA promotes the highest quality eye and vision care by optometrists, represents optometry to state government, provides its members with post-graduate education and membership benefits, and conducts activities in the interest of the visual welfare of the public. For more information, visit www.poaeyes.org.

About the American Optometric Association (AOA):
The American Optometric Association represents approximately 36,000 doctors of optometry, optometry students and paraoptometric assistants and technicians. Optometrists serve patients in nearly 6,500 communities across the country, and in 3,500 of those communities are the only eye doctors. Doctors of optometry provide two-thirds of all primary eye care in the United States.

American Optometric Association doctors of optometry are highly qualified, trained doctors on the frontline of eye and vision care who examine, diagnose, treat and manage diseases and disorders of the eye. In addition to providing eye and vision care, optometrists play a major role in a patient's overall health and well-being by detecting systemic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.

Prior to optometry school, optometrists typically complete four years of undergraduate study, culminating in a bachelor's degree. Required undergraduate coursework for pre-optometry students is extensive and covers a wide variety of advanced health, science and mathematics. Optometry school consists of four years of post-graduate, doctoral study concentrating on both the eye and systemic health. In addition to their formal training, doctors of optometry must undergo annual continuing education to stay current on the latest standards of care. For more information, visit www.aoa.org.

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