Counterfeit Lenses Can Cause Blindness: State Officials

Officials caution customers not to buy contacts from Halloween shops

Decorative and colored contact lenses are what bring many of the most popular Halloween costumes to life. With Halloween right around the corner, brushing up on the precautions of wearing false contacts  are a must.

For those dressing up as a vampire or a cat, the lenses may seem fun. However, counterfeit lenses are illegal due to their history of causing serious injuries and in some cases permanent vision loss.

“Wearing any kind of contact lens, including decorative lenses, without proper consultation of an eye care professional can cause serious injury” said Dr. Karen Smith, California Department of Public Health Director and State Public Health Officer.  

Medical experts insist consumers consult a trained professional if interested in buying decorative lenses.

"Make no mistake, contact lenses are medical devices that should be prescribed by trained professionals," said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) Los Angeles.

Even those who believe to have perfect vision should still obtain a prescription from a professional.

It is illegal to buy and sell contact lenses of any kind without a valid prescription in the state of California. To be safe, don't buy contact lenses from a vendor that does not require a valid prescription.

Officials caution customers not to buy contacts from Halloween shops, beauty supply stores or novelty stores due to health risks such as “infection, ulcers, decreased vision, cuts or scratches to the surface of the eye, itchiness and redness." If conditions are left untreated, they may result in blindness.

"… Halloween is a fun and festive holiday, and nobody wants to see those celebrations end with a trip to the ER," Arnold said.

If you know of any illegal sales of contact lenses, call CDPH’s Food and Drug Branch Hotline at 1-800-495-3232.

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