Halloween health warnings harvest results

Halloween is here, and the AOA and state affiliates spent October reminding the public to have a healthy fear of decorative contact lenses.

Consumers face risks when purchasing and wearing such lenses without a valid prescription and proper medical evaluation from a doctor of optometry. More than 1.3 million people were alerted about these risks thanks to coverage in 225 media outlets across the country.

The efforts have yielded results in time for Halloween:

  • A major retailer agreed to stop selling over-the-counter contact lenses after being urged to do so by AOA leaders and members
  • Several federal agencies joined forces on an alert about the dangers of counterfeit decorative contact lenses, which included a statement from Glenda Brown, O.D., president of the Georgia Optometric Association.
"Decorative contact lenses can put people at risk."

Keeping an eye on contact lens safety

"Even though these are non-corrective lenses, they still pose the same potential health and safety risks as other contact lenses," said Glenda Secor, O.D., chair of the AOA's Contact Lens and Cornea Section. "When purchased over-the-counter, 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. Sadly, numerous cases of this have been documented."

How you can help

Improperly purchased lenses are a danger year round, not just on Halloween. To help spread the word, use this infographic on your website, your Facebook page and in your office to warn your patients about the risks.

If a patient is harmed or injured because of the illegal sales of contact lenses (corrective or decorative), report it to the FDA. If you believe a contact lens seller (online or in person) is selling lenses with poor business practices that could lead to harm or injury, report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

As Paul Proske, O.D., an AOA member practicing in Texas, noted, "If enough of my colleagues take the time to report incidents in which their patients are put at risk by purchasing contact lenses online or through unconventional retailers without proper prescriptions and oversight, we could effect change on a national level."

Members also can email copies of any complaints they file to Kara Webb. These incidents will be logged internally to discuss with federal agencies.

October 31, 2013

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