Federal agencies warn about dangers of costume contact lenses

Federal agencies warn about dangers of costume contact lenses

WASHINGTON, DC (WCSC) - As Halloween approaches, federal law-enforcement agencies are warning consumers about the dangers of unapproved and counterfeit contact lenses.

Colored or designed lenses continue to be sold illegally at retail outlets and online, despite safety warnings from the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA says the lenses can cause eye infections, conjunctivitis and impaired vision. Testing of these counterfeit lenses has shown high levels of bacteria due to poor sanitary packaging conditions. The coloring may also consist of lead-based materials that leach into the eye.

The director of the FDA's Office of Criminal Investigations, George M. Karavetsos says people should just stick with prescription lenses instead.

"A valid prescription helps ensure consumers get contact lenses that are determined to be safe and effective by the FDA," Karavetsos said. "Without it, people can risk serious eye injuries or loss of eyesight for one night of fun."

Operation Double Vision is an ongoing effort to stop these illegal and counterfeit lenses. The FDA has combined efforts with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection to seize about 100,000 pairs of the unapproved lenses.

If you see these costume lenses for sale at costume stores in South Carolina you should not buy them, but you should report them. You can report the incident to the ICE tip line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or online at ice.gov/tipline.

Copyright WCSC 2016. All Rights Reserved.