Halloween is just around the corner and while many are planning their costumes, one New Jersey eye doctor is warning about the use of fashion contact lenses.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers a contact lens to be a medical device with or without a prescriptive power. That means it’s illegal to get these lenses without a prescription from an eye doctor, said Dr. Joseph Calderone of Better Vision New Jersey in Cranford.
A contact lens prescription means the doctor writing the script knows that the lens fits the wearer’s eye properly. That means it has to be seen in the individual’s eye inside the doctor’s office. The wearer also has to demonstrate that he or she can properly insert and remove the lenses properly, Calderone added.
“There is no competent eye doctor anywhere that’s going to ignore any of these steps when giving out a contact lens prescription,” said Calderone.
Decorative contact lenses without a prescription may not fit correctly, resulting in scratches to the surface of the eye, also known as corneal abrasions. It can also lead to painful corneal ulcers, heals with a scar and vision loss.
Calderone said a study published in 2015 in The Journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology revealed uneven textures on many of these decorative contact lens surfaces and metal fragments and chlorine in the storage solution.
Also, the American Association of Optometry reported that during past Halloweens, up to 26% of Americans who purchased non-corrective contact lenses were still able to get them without a prescription from many places that did not even ask for a prescription.
Calderone said the big problem with these fashion contact lenses is improper sizing, meaning that they may not fit properly. The eyeball has curvatures to it. Contact lenses have different curvatures.
If the appropriate sized or shaped contact lens does not match a person’s eye, then it can rub against the bottom of the eye. If it scrapes the bottom of the eye, Calderone said it can do a lot of damage like abrasions, ulcers, and even worse, vision loss.
Calderone said the FDA advises that to wear decorative lenses safely, people should get an eye exam from a licensed eye doctor, get a valid prescription and purchase them from a seller that not only requires a prescription, but also only sells FDA-approved lenses.
He warned that these directions must be followed, with no shortcuts. If it’s not possible to get prescribed lenses before Halloween, then skip it as part of the costume this year.
Red flags for someone who claims to be from New Jersey