Decorative contact lenses are popular around Halloween, but federal officials warn that the marketplace includes counterfeit eye coverings that can lead to all kinds of problems, up to blindness. Indeed, illegally imported decorative lenses that have not been approved buy the Food and Drug Administration are being targeted in an ongoing, multi-agency effort called "Operation Double Vision."
The feds are also suggesting consumers avoid buying decorative lenses from novelty shops, salons, beauty supply stores or online sources if the purchase does not require a prescription. Indeed, it is illegal, due to the inherent medical risks, to buy or sell contact lenses of any kind without a prescription from an ophthalmologist, optometrist or a specially licensed optician under the supervision of an eye doctor. The government warns such prescriptions can be obtained for as little as $20.
"Our concern is that consumers who buy and use decorative contact lenses without a valid prescription can run significant risks of eye injuries, including blindness," said John Roth, director of FDA's Office of Criminal Investigations, in a statement. "It is always better to involve a qualified eye care professional and protect your vision."
Officials note that contact lenses are considered a medical device, despite the urge to incorporate them into dress-up.
Joining the FDA in "Operation Double Vision" are U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection as well as the ICE-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center in Washington.
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Speaking of making my eyes hurt, the opener photo is from this poster for writer-director Eric England's Contracted, which is about a woman (Najarra Townsend) who sleeps with a mysterious man, awakes feeling awful and goes from concluding she caught an STD to something more sinister:
It opens theatrically and on Video On Demand Nov. 22. Let's hope Townsend got a prescription for those fake peepers.