FOX43 Finds Out: Behind the lens of costume contacts

Cosmetic contacts can certainly give your Halloween a costume an interesting look, thought experts say it may not be worth the risk.

The Federal Trade Commission wants people to know they shouldn't be buying the accessory without a valid prescription from an eye doctor.

Debbi Reck at Make Believin' costumes in York Township, York County says she has dozens of people coming into the store asking for costume contacts.

"They do not want to get contacts from a store like me. they need to see an eye care professional," said Reck.

She has heard the horror stories of what can happen if you wear contacts without the proper care, like permanently damaging your vision.

"It's really not worth looking cool for a couple hours to get a raging infection and or possibly blindness."

Christianne Schoedel is an Optomologist in York county.

She says her office spends time fitting patients with contacts and then even more time teaching them how to properly use the lenses.

The doctor says it's all about safety.

"If you put a contact lens on your eye, especially one that doesn't fit properly, you can restrict basically the nourishment for the cornea," said Dr. Schoedel.

You can also end up with a nasty infection like pink eye, scratches or sores on your cornea and in some extreme cases, blindness.

Some of the costume contacts are FDA approved with a valid prescription.

That means you had an eye test and the doctor wrote your script within the last year.

Schoedel says she rarely has people come in for decorative contacts prescription.

"Maybe one or two in my whole career," the doctor said.

The doctor does say even if you get a prescription, you may still have some itchy eyes.

That's because the designs are usually painted on the contact, which is different from the ones you would wear everyday - and that paint can restrict oxygen to the cornea.

She also says those itchy eyes are a sign that you should take the lenses out.

"They might be a little self regulating in that way."

The FTC wants people to report sites or companies that are illegally selling these cosmetic contacts.

You can file a complaint here. 

The FTC has fined companies it believes has violated the Contact Lens Rule since it was enacted in 2004.

The most recent case involved an online company based in California, which had to pay $60,000. 

Just ahead of Halloween, the FTC sent a letter to 7 companies warning them about the contact lens rule.

The American Optometric Association also looks into how companies violate the rule.

Since 2016, the American Optometric Association’s (AOA) “31 in 31” annual October letter-writing campaign has called out a total of 124 online vendors, brick-and-mortar shops and other sellers who may be distributing contact lenses to the public without valid prescriptions, in violation of the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act (FCLCA) and Contact Lens Rule."

Also be aware, sometimes companies will not market these items as contacts, they'll file it under a "beauty" or a "makeup product."

If you have a story you want Jackie to look into, FOX43 wants to find out.

Send her an email or send a message on Facebook with your story idea.

 

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