How to Buy Safe Cosmetic Lenses

How to Buy Safe Cosmetic Lenses

Your child might think decorative contact lenses are fun, but they can also be dangerous if misused. Find out how to buy contacts that won’t harm your child’s eyes.

Halloween is around the corner and your son wants to be a vampire. He’s even found a place online to buy some “blood red” contact lenses. You get caught up in his excitement and figure it’s harmless. But is it?

Decorative, or plano, contact lenses don’t correct vision. They can be used to change a person’s eye color for cosmetic reasons, or to create a special effect. Sales of these novelty lenses spike during the Halloween season.

Before you buy, though, make sure you know about the possible dangers of these lenses.

The risks

When lenses don’t fit or are not handled properly, your child is at risk for the following eye complications:

  • Allergic reaction to the lenses
  • Pink eye
  • Corneal scratches
  • Trouble with seeing contrasts
  • Corneal ulcers, which can lead to infection, scarring, vision impairment, blindness or even loss of the affected eye

The law

Cosmetic lenses aren’t used for vision correction, but they are still held to the same FDA standards as regular contacts. They should be sold to you only after a qualified eye professional has performed a proper fitting and issued a prescription.

Decorative contact lenses can be bought without prescriptions on the Internet. They are also sold in record stores, beauty salons, flea markets and resort souvenir shops. Don’t take shortcuts and jeopardize your child’s eye health, though. If a vendor doesn’t require a prescription, take your business somewhere else. Any company that doesn’t ask for a prescription is breaking the law.

Purchasing and caring for lenses

If you take your child to an optometry shop for an eye exam, you may be pushed to buy the lenses there. By law, you must be given a copy of the prescription, whether or not you ask for it. You may then take your business to any retailer you choose.

Your child’s eye doctor should instruct him on how to wear the cosmetic lenses correctly, including when to wear them and when to remove them. Novelty lenses should be cared for in the same way as regular lenses. Your eye doctor will give your child instructions for caring for the lenses. Make sure he knows how to clean, disinfect and store them properly to keep his eyes from being harmed. Schedule a follow-up appointment with his eye doctor to be sure the lenses are not causing any problems.

Make sure your child knows the dangers of misusing contact lenses and knows not to buy them without a prescription. Instruct her to never share contact lenses with anyone else. Also make sure she knows that doing so can spread infection and cause serious complications, which could lead to vision loss.

There’s no reason your child can’t shock the neighbors with neon, spiral, bloodshot, cat or wolf eyes on Halloween. Just make sure you take the time to plan an eye exam and contact lens fitting for him first – and have him carefully follow the doctor’s directions. His eyesight could depend on it.

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