Eye HealthLifestyle Topics
Smoking increases the risk of developing cataracts – quit or avoid smoking to help keep your eyes healthy.
Know Your History
Those with a family history of eye disease are at a greater risk for developing eye diseases or conditions themselves.
Water & Contacts Don’t Mix
To help prevent eye infections, contact lenses should be removed before going swimming or in a hot tub.
It's Not OK to Skip a Day
To control glaucoma, take eye drops exactly as prescribed by your ophthalmologist—your sight depends on it.
Give your Eyes a Break
To prevent computer eyestrain, follow the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
Know Your Eye Care Team
Make sure you are seeing the right eye care provider for your condition or treatment.
Are You Fit at 40?
A baseline eye exam is recommended at age 40, when the signs of disease and change in vision may start to occur.
Halloween Hazard: The Hidden Dangers of Buying Decorative Contact Lenses Without a Prescription
It started as an impulsive buy from a souvenir shop, but 10 hours after she first put in a pair of decorative contact lenses, Laura Butler of Parkersburg, W.Va., had "extreme pain in both eyes," she said. "Because I had not been properly fitted by an eye care professional, the lenses stuck to my eye like a suction cup."
Halloween is a popular time for people to use decorative contact lenses to enhance their costumes. From blood-drenched vampire eyes to glow-in-the-dark lizard lenses, decorative contacts can certainly add a spooky, eye-popping touch. Decorative contact lenses like colored contacts are popular year-round.
But few know the risks associated with these lenses. "Most people believe that decorative lenses do not require the same level of care or consideration as a standard contact lens because they can be purchased over-the-counter or on the Internet," says Thomas Steinemann, MD, professor of ophthalmology at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. "This is far from the truth."
In fact, it is illegal to sell decorative contact lenses without a prescription in the United States. All contact lenses are medical devices that require a prescription and proper fitting by an eye-care professional. Retailers that sell contacts without a prescription are breaking the law, and may be fined $11,000 per violation. "Many of the lenses found online or in beauty salons, novelty shops or in pop-up Halloween stores are not FDA-approved and are being sold illegally," Dr. Steinemann said.
Never buy decorative contact lenses from a retailer that does not ask for a prescription. There is no such thing as a "one size fits all" contact lens. Lenses that are not properly fitted may scratch the eye or cause blood vessels to grow into the cornea. Even if you have perfect vision, you need to get an eye exam and a prescription from an eye-care professional in order to wear any kind of contact lens. In Butler's case, the lenses caused an infection and left her with a corneal abrasion. "I was in severe pain and on medication for four weeks, and couldn't see well enough to drive for eight weeks," she said. "I now live with a corneal scar, vision damage and a drooping eyelid."
To safely wear decorative contact lenses for Halloween or any time of year, follow these guidelines:
- Get an eye exam from a licensed eye care professional such as an ophthalmologist -- an eye medical doctor -- who will measure each eye and talk to you about proper contact lens care.
- Obtain a valid prescription that includes the brand name, lens measurements, and expiration date.
- Purchase the decorative contact lenses from an eye product retailer who asks for a prescription.
- Follow the contact lens care directions for cleaning, disinfecting, and wearing the lenses.
- Never share contact lenses with another person.
- Get follow up exams with your eye care provider.
If you notice redness, swelling, excessive discharge, pain or discomfort from wearing contact lenses, remove the lenses and seek immediate medical attention from an ophthalmologist.
Consumer warning about the improper use of decorative contact lenses, from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Are the decorative lenses you are considering buying approved by the FDA?
- Check the FDA's database of approved contact lenses.
- Buyer beware: review a list of unapproved lenses and websites selling them in the United States.