2005-08-04 / News

FDA warns consumers about risks of decorative contacts

“The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning consumers about serious risks of using decorative contact lenses distributed without appropriate involvement from an eye care professional,” said Dr. Chris Hobson of Kennesaw, president of the 600 member Georgia Optometric Association (GOA). “These decorative lenses can cause permanent eye injury and may potentially lead to blindness.”

The FDA has received reports of decorative contact lenses being marketed and distributed directly to consumers through sources such as flea markets, convenience stores, beach shops and the Internet. In Georgia, the lenses are being marketed and distributed directly to consumers in the Albany area through local beauty supply stores. Stores in other areas may also be involved.

“Among the risks involved in using the decorative lenses are corneal ulcers associated with wearing the lenses in excess of the recommended period,” says Dr. Hobson. “Corneal ulcers can progress rapidly, and, if left untreated, could lead to infection of the eye. Uncontrolled infection can lead to corneal scarring and vision impairment. In the most severe cases, this condition can result in blindness and eye loss.”

Other risks associated with the use of decorative contact lenses include conjunctivitis (an infection of the eye); corneal edema (swelling); allergic reaction and corneal abrasion due to poor lens fit. Other problems may include reduction in visual acuity (sight), contrast sensitivity and other visual functions, resulting in interference with driving and other activities.

“Although decorative contact lenses may seem like a necessity to fashion-conscious teens, parents should understand that these lenses can seriously harm the eyes if they are used without appropriate supervision by an eye care professional,” said Dr. Hobson. “Along with the FDA, the GOA is committed to protecting the public health by warning the public against the purchase and use of these products.”

If someone in your family has obtained decorative contact lenses that have not been fit by an optician, optometrist or ophthalmologist, you are urged to discontinue immediately the use of those lenses. The FDA also requests that consumers report any complaints to the FDA district office consumer complaint coordinator by calling 1-800-FDA-1088. If you are aware of an establishment engaged in illegal sales, you are encouraged to contact the State Board of Optometry by calling (478) 207-2686 or the Georgia Optometric Association at 1800-949-0060.

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