It happens every year around Halloween. People buy non prescription contact lenses at a variety store or costume shop to add a little extra to their outfit. A few days later, they end up in the eye doctor’s office with an infection, injury, or damaged vision!
One type of non prescription contact lenses that are popular are the Anime/Ulzzang lenses. They mimic the eyes of Asian cartoon characters and extend past the iris onto the white of the eye. While these are illegal in the U.S., they are available via the Internet.
That’s why it is important to remind people that contact lenses are medical devices that are regulated by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). Any place that advertises them as cosmetics or fashion accessories are breaking the law. In addition, if someone wants non prescription contacts, he or she should see an eye care professional.
When people get these lenses without consulting an eye doctor, the results can be harmful to their vision. For example, Laura Butler of Parkersburg, W.Va bought colored contact lenses at a souvenir shop for $30 and ended up with a $2000 medical bill! What started out as an impulse buy ended ten hours later with pain and a trip to the emergency room. An ophthalmologist diagnosed Butler with having a corneal abrasion. “The doctor said it was as if someone took sandpaper and sanded my cornea,” said Butler.
Butler saw the doctor for every day for ten days and was under his care for seven weeks. She couldn’t see well enough to drive for eight weeks, had a drooping eyelid for five months, and now has decreased vision in one eye.
Yet, despite the danger, the sales of non prescription contact lenses continue. So, it is important to warn patients that the use of such contact lenses could lead to: scratches on the cornea (like what Butler experienced), an ulcer on the cornea, conjunctivitis, decreased vision, and/or blindness.
No one wants these problems, so warn patients early and often about the dangers of purchasing non prescription contact lenses.
Sources: FDA and GetEyeSmart.org