Optometrist Warns Decorative Contact Lenses Can Harm Vision

MISSION – An optometrist warned others wearing costume contact lenses can be more dangerous than they might initially think.

Rio Grande Valley resident Denisse Garcia is excited for Halloween.

"I mean, it's a tradition. You have the kid, the adults, and especially the girls now that try to get the sexiest costumes. Instead of getting something scary we go for the sexiest costumes now," she said.

Garcia and her coworkers were on their way to shop for Halloween costumes. The team is planning on doing a group costume for the holiday.

Garcia said she is open to costume ideas but there is one thing she won’t wear: costume contact lenses.

"I hear so many horror stories. Plus, in March I had like some sort of disease in my eye so I don't want to lose my vision, I don't want to risk it," Garcia told CHANNEL 5 NEWS.

Dr. Sonia Silva at Thurmond Optical in Mission said Garcia is wise to stay away from decorative contact lenses. She said according to the FDA, it is illegal to sell contact lenses of any kind to anyone without a prescription.

Dr. Silva added optometrists use special tools such as a Slit Lamp and Keratometer to find the exact fit of contact lenses for their patients. She said since every eye is different buying contact lenses without being properly fitted can cause serious problems.

"If it's a lens that fits their eye too tight, they don't receive enough oxygen to the eye, and that’s when their eye can swell or get a scratch because of that,” she said. “Because they try to take it out and they injure themselves trying to remove the lens.”

She said if someone scratches their cornea, it may cause permanent vision problems. Also, improperly handling, storing, or sharing the contact lens can lead to bacterial infections such as pink eye. 

Dr. Silva explained certain costume lenses may also lead to dangerous driving.

"Those blackouts or cat eyes do block the peripheral vision so if they are driving with them they could be affecting their best quality of vision," Dr. Silva told CHANNEL 5 NEWS.

We went shopping around for costume contact lenses in downtown McAllen. In less than five minutes, we found a store who sold us a pair of lenses.

The owner of the store declined an on-camera interview, but was surprised when we informed him it was illegal to sell the lens. He removed the advertisements for the lens and promised us he would not sell contact lenses anymore.

We spoke to a representative of the FDA. She told us the food and drug administration encourages consumers to report illegal sales of these lenses on their website at www.fda.gov.

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