CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Illegal Halloween costume accessories are being sold in local gas stations. Despite their popularity, the Food and Drug Administration has banned all over-the-counter sales of decorative contact lenses for their dangerous health risks.
"Everybody wants them," said Giles Taylor, Owner of Hocus Pocus Halloween store. "They have hundreds of different styles of them."
Taylor says they get dozens of customers coming in and wanting to buy them.
"If I could sell them, I could literally have a line going out the door and around the corner," said Taylor.
Taylor said most of his customers don't know it's illegal for the Halloween store to sell them over the counter in the U.S. Only a licensed doctor is permitted to give them to patients, with a prescription.
However, that's not stopping some corner stores and gas stations in the Lowcountry from selling them.
Live 5 went to see if we could find them and within minutes spotted the product at a gas station and a corner store off Highway 61 in West Ashley. The two locations were selling different brands of cosmetic lenses, both made overseas.
Clerks said they didn't know they were illegal and thought that because these products had the letters FDA on them, they were okay to sell.
"They don't have any FDA approval and these are sent in either through the internet or different businesses," said Robert Black, OD, associate professor at the Medical University of South Carolina,
Black said the product is being smuggled into the United States from overseas.
"These lenses can be contaminated with bacteria, viruses, yeast, mold and fungus before anybody even gets to them here," said Black. "There's absolutely no quality control on those."
Each Halloween, usually a few days after the holiday, people come into the hospital with eye injuries from the decorative contacts, said Black.
Some of side effects from wearing those costume contact lenses can be scratches and swelling to your cornea, pink eye, blurry vision and even blindness.
Treatment consists of an antibiotic shot straight into the eye, said Black. If left untreated, a person could lose their eye over it.
If you want an alternative way for your costume to pop, Taylor suggests using makeup or masks to get a similar look.