Doctor: Cosmetic lenses can lead to blindness

Defenders report on dangers of non-prescription 'costume contacts'

SAN ANTONIO - Celebrities are doing it, which means thousands of teenagers are sure to follow in their footsteps.

Buying cosmetic contacts is especially popular this time of year with Halloween approaching, but according to UT Medicine Ophthalmologist Dr. Annie Chan, it is not a good idea.

"If you put a contact lens over the cornea that doesn't fit very well, it could either start rubbing on the eye or cut off the nutrition supply to the eye," Chan said

That could lead to a corneal ulcer.

"It's just like an infection on your skin, it can erode through that clear window of your eye, it can even cause blindness ini the end," Chan said.

Part of the problem with purchasing contact lenses without a prescription is that there is not a trained professional there to make sure they fit properly.

In 2006, the FDA made prescriptions mandatory for anyone purchasing contact lenses -- corrective or cosmetic.

"You are required to have a prescription from a professional eyecare provider -- either an optometrist or an ophthalmologist -- who is certified and trained to be able to make sure the contact lenses you buy fit well and are appropriate for your eyes," Chan said.

Since a Defenders investigation revealed local shops selling the decorative lenses without a prescription a couple years back, they are harder to come by -- but not impossible.

Parents be warned: your kids can purchase the contacts in the blink of an eye online.

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