HONOLULU, Hawaii – Just in time for the Halloween season, the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs issued a media release on Monday warning consumers “to be aware of the risks associated with wearing cosmetic, non-corrective contact lenses that are purchased without a valid prescription.”
The state says wearing the wrong contacts can “cause injury, infection and even possible blindness if the quality is questionable or they are fitted or worn incorrectly.”
If you have seen such cosmetic lenses for sale over the counter in the Aloha State, chances are the product is being sold illegally.
The DCCA said:
|In 2008, the state passed a law prohibiting sales of nonprescription contact lenses in Hawaii. However, these lenses are still being marketed illegally as fashion or Halloween accessories at beauty salons, swap meets, convenience stores; through on-line businesses; and even by individuals advertising on the Internet.|
A license is needed to sell contact lenses in Hawaii, the DCCA says. But that doesn’t stop the illegal vending.
“Unfortunately, it’s relatively easy to find them, and a lot of people, especially young people, aren’t aware of the risks involved in wearing them,” Regulated Industries Complaints Office (RICO) Complaints and Enforcement Officer Daria Loy-Goto said in a media release. “We investigate and prosecute cases at locations and online throughout the year, not just at Halloween.”
Loy Goto said that it is possible to get the decorative lenses legally – and the contacts can be safe – if they are dispensed by a licensed professional.
“However, they’re not cosmetics or ‘over-the-counter merchandise.'” said Loy-Goto. “Consumers must be cautious.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued an alert of its own:
|Just like their corrective counterparts, decorative contact lenses—sometimes called plano, zero-powered, or non-corrective contact lenses—are regulated by FDA.Recent legislation has made it illegal to market decorative contact lenses as over-the-counter products. Still, FDA is aware that consumers without valid prescriptions have bought decorative contact lenses from beauty salons, record stores, video stores, flea markets, convenience stores, beach shops, and the Internet.
“What troubles us is when they are bought and used without a valid prescription, without the involvement of a qualified eye care professional, or without appropriate follow-up care,” says Saviola. “This can lead to significant risks of eye injuries, including blindness.”
Unauthorized contact lenses of all types present risks to the eye that include corneal ulcers, corneal abrasion, vision impairment, and blindness.
DCCA offered these tips:
- Get an eye examination from a licensed eye care professional, even if you have perfect vision.
- Get a valid prescription that includes the brand and lens dimensions.
- Purchase lenses from a licensed eye care professional or from a vendor who requires a prescription for the lenses.
- Follow the directions for cleaning, disinfecting, and wearing the lenses, and visit a licensed eye care professional for follow-up eye examinations.
For more information, contact the DCCA Consumer Resource Center at 587-4272 (toll-free 1-800-394-1902 for the Neighbor Islands).
To report unlicensed activity, contact the Regulated Industries Complaints Office at (808) 587-4272.