Decorative contacts can be dangerous

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Halloween is just a week away.  That means a lot of people are costume shopping.  Be careful though if you are thinking of adding those decorative contact lenses to your look.

They may look cool or spooky, but they can do serious damage to your eyes!

It is actually against the law for someone to sell decorative contact lenses without a prescription.

That's because getting what seems like a real treat for your costume can turn into a serious scare for your eye health.

"A poor fitting contact lens can lead to numerous things.  Scarring, they're uncomfortable.  Are they contaminated, are they sterile, " said Leet Eye Care contact lens technician, Cherie Harris.

Harris says she gets lots of calls from people looking for the costume contacts this time of year.  Unlike most costume accessories though, this one goes in your eye, so it's not "one size fits all."

When you buy from a costume shop, novelty store or online you may not know what you're getting.

"Who knows if it's packaged in someone's basement, what it's stored in, if it's sterile," Harris said.

While discomfort, irritation, or an infection might sound scary enough, there's a more serious threat.

"You can't see through scar tissue, your cornea is very clear, it's the window to the world," says Harris.  "So the big fear is permanent damage that you can do to your eye."

In fact, in 2005 the Food and Drug Administration banned the sale of contacts without a prescription.  So even if you see something that claims to be "FDA approved" they're still illegal without that valid prescription.

"People think I don't need a prescription, I can just pick up a pair," Harris said.  "But you're still inserting it into your eye."

Harris' recommendation: See an eye doctor, get a prescription, and buy them from a doctor or reputable source.  She says it will cost more cash, but could save your sight.

Many local Halloween and novelty shops do not sell them.  However, they can still be found in some stores.

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