The Pennsylvania departments of Health and State warn that it is against the law to sell decorative or cosmetic contact lenses without a prescription and that using unfitted lenses can pose a serious health risk. Such lenses are popular during the Halloween season.
"If contacts are not obtained with a prescription from a properly trained and licensed health care professional, they can be dangerous due to improper fit," said Department of Health Secretary Dr. Eli N. Avila. "Lenses that are improperly fitted or used can cause the loss of an eye, blindness, impaired vision, corneal damage, infection or allergic reactions."
Federal and state law requires prescriptions for contact lenses.
"Decorative or cosmetic lenses are considered medical devices under federal law, and are legally marketed as prescription devices," said Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele, whose department licenses both physicians and optometrists in Pennsylvania. "In addition, Pennsylvania law requires a prescription by a licensed physician or optometrist for the fitting of a contact lens."
Avila also added that many decorative lenses lack proper instruction for use and urged parents to consult a physician or optometrist if a child wants to wear them.
To report improper use or sale of contact lenses, call the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, if you know contact lenses are being dispensed without a prescription at 1-800-FDA-1088; the Pennsylvania Department of State, if unlicensed businesses are prescribing or distributing contact lenses at (717) 783-1379; the Pennsylvania Department of Health, if businesses other than practitioners are distributing contact lenses without a prescription at (800) 822-2113.
For more information, visit www.health.state.pa.us or call 1-877-PA-HEALTH.