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Doctors: As Halloween Approaches, Watch For Unlicensed Contact Lenses

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It’s Halloween season and many people are on the hunt for the perfect costume and accessories.

But some popular additions to costumes, like contact lenses that change eye color or appearance, can be dangerous to health.

“Patients think that one contact lens fits every eye and that’s just not true. If you don’t wear them properly you can get an infection. You can get inflammation on the front surface of your eye,” said Charlene Felser, an optometrist at Eyeglass Express in Butler Plaza.

Doctors are concerned that people think costume lenses can be used in the same way as over-the-counter sunglasses. They warn against buying contact lenses from retail stores and online sites that don’t require a prescription or provide medical advice on how to care for them.

Perhaps their suggestions are finding support among businesses.

Several years ago a person could walk into a Halloween shop and buy costume contacts, but because of how dangerous they are without a doctor’s prescription, stores are no longer selling them.

The issue has drawn the attention of the Food and Drug Administration, which is working with a handful of other agencies to seize counterfeit contact lenses, illegally imported decorative lenses and lenses not approved across the country.

Optometrists like Norah Krol said the issue wasn’t well regulated but added that people can safely wear costume contact lenses.

“The goal is to educate people about the right way to do it,” said Krol, who works with Gainesville Family Eyecare. “It’s perfectly fine to do it, as long it’s the right way.”

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