Agents warn consumers about infections, blindness from counterfeit contact lenses

WASHINGTON –  Halloween is just around the corner and federal authorities are warning the public about the dangers associated with one accessory that can cause lasting damage.

Multiple agencies are working together in “Operation Double Vision” to seize counterfeit decorative lenses from stores across the country that were illegally imported and not approved by the FDA.

The lenses are advertised to make your eyes wide like a doll’s, or change the shape or color of your eye to match a character.

Officials stress that consumers should not purchase contact lenses from Halloween or novelty stores, salons, beauty supply stores or online if the site does not require a prescription.

They say various legitimate stores and websites sell decorative lenses but consumers should avoid buying anything that goes onto your eye from a store that does not require a valid prescription.

“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. “It is always better to involve a qualified eye care professional and protect your vision.”

Experts say consumers who purchase counterfeit lenses can experience infections, corneal ulcers and have even gone blind.

If you notice redness, have lasting eye pain or a decrease in vision, you should immediately see your eye doctor.

GRAPHIC: Infections resulting from counterfeit lenses