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Good Question: Just how harmful can decorative contact lenses be to my eyes?

By: Susan Koeppen
By: Susan Koeppen

With Halloween just days away you may be tempted to pick up a pair of decorative contact lenses to go with your costume.

Many people don't know its against the law to sell the lenses without a prescription, while they may look cool they can do serious damage.

Good Question: Just how harmful can decorative contact lenses be to my eyes?

Laura Butler was driving with her three year old in the back seat when she was suddenly blinded.

"It was an excruciating pain," said Laura Butler.

She turned her brown eyes blue with colored contact lenses she had just purchased at a novelty store, without a prescription.

"It felt like I had been cut with something very sharp and not just once," said Butler.

One of the contact lenses sliced Laura's cornea, causing a viral infection in her left eye.

"The doctor ultimately told me the result of that kind of injury could be permanent vision loss," said Butler.

"Its more than a piece of costume jewelry, this is a medical device," said Dr. Thomas Steinemann.

Dr. Steinemann is with the American Academy of Ophthalmology says any lens must be fitted to your specific eye shape by a medical professional to avoid possible injury.

"One size does not fit all. Even though the lenses does not correct your vision, your eye shape is very different from the next person," said Dr. Steinemann.

In 2005 the Federal Government banned the sale of decorative contact lenses without a prescription.

If you shop around for them the lenses can still be found in some stores, no prescription, not fitting and no medical professional necessary.

"I'm disappointed more than anything, we're still seeing patients through our emergency room with urgent and emergency eye problems related to over the counter wear of these lenses," said Dr. Steinemann.

As for Laura Butler's vision, three months later its still blurry.

"Take yourself, your children, anybody who wants to change their eye color, take them to a physician and be fitted."

In nearby Ohio the state has gone after ten companies this year for selling the lenses without a prescription.


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