Patients Beware: Buying Decorative Halloween Contact Lenses without a Prescription is Risky

Media Contacts:
Deirdre Middleton, dmiddleton@aoa.org; 703.837.1347

ST. LOUIS, Oct. 4, 2017 -In the spirit of Halloween, the American Optometric Association (AOA) is warning people about a real fright - damage from wearing un-prescribed decorative lenses. Decorative contact lenses allow patients to alter the appearance or color of their eyes. These non-corrective, decorative lenses - that are very popular during Halloween - can cause serious eye health issues and may even permanently damage your eyesight. According to the AOA, these lenses should only be acquired with a prescription from a doctor of optometry.

All contact lenses are classified as medical devices by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and require a valid prescription. Optometrists are growing increasingly concerned about how accessible decorative contact lenses are and the risks for patients who purchase them from unregulated sources, commonly found online or from a costume shop.   

"Decorative contact lenses may seem like a fun accessory, but if you're not careful, they can cause serious eye and vision problems," said Christopher J. Quinn, O.D., president of the AOA. "Unfortunately, many patients mistakenly believe they don't need a prescription for decorative contact lenses. It's extremely important that patients get an eye exam and only wear contact lenses, with or without vision correction, that are prescribed for and fitted to your eyes by a doctor of optometry."  

Purchasing decorative contact lenses without a prescription from questionable sources can result in bacterial infections, allergic reactions, or even significant damage to the eye's ability to function, which could lead to irreversible sight loss.  

With Halloween right around the corner, the AOA has compiled three tips to ensure eye health and safety are a priority:

·        See an optometrist for decorative lenses, even if you have 20/20 vision! O.D.s can properly fit your lenses and give you a comprehensive exam to assess total eye health.

·        Don't share your lenses with friends or family members so they can perfect their costume. This will spread bacteria and germs.

·        No matter how tired you are after the Halloween festivities, do not sleep in your contacts and give your eyes a break.  

For more information about how to wear and care contact lenses safely, visit www.aoa.org.  

About the American Optometric Association (AOA): The American Optometric Association, a federation of state, student and armed forces optometric associations, was founded in 1898. Today, the AOA is proud to represent the profession of optometry, America's family eye doctors, who take a leading role in an individual's overall eye and vision care, health and well-being. Doctors of optometry (ODs) are the independent primary health care professionals for the eye and have extensive, ongoing training to examine, diagnose, treat and manage disorders, diseases and injuries that affect the eye and visual system, providing two-thirds of primary eye care in the U.S. For information on a variety of eye health and vision topics, and to find an optometrist near you, visit www.aoa.org.