CDPH Warns Consumers about Risks of Wearing Decorative Contact Lenses

SACRAMENTO – California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Tomás J. Aragón today warned consumers about the risks associated with wearing decorative contact lenses.

“Advertised as color, cosmetic, fashion and theatrical contact lenses, decorative contact lenses are especially popular around Halloween,” said Dr. Aragón. “Wearing any kind of contact lens, including decorative lenses, without proper consultation of an eye care professional can cause serious injury.”

The sale of contact lenses without a prescription is illegal. The right to dispense, sell or furnish contact lenses is limited exclusively to licensed physicians and surgeons, licensed optometrists, and registered dispensing opticians.

Decorative contact lenses are intended to temporarily change the appearance of the eye, but do not correct vision. “The risks include infection, ulcers, decreased vision, cuts or scratches to the surface of the eye, itchiness or redness. If these conditions are left untreated, the injuries can progress rapidly. In severe cases, blindness and eye loss can occur,” said Dr. Aragón.

Decorative contact lenses are typically sold at beauty supply stores and smoke shops. Consumers who have experienced any injury or illness with decorative contact lenses should contact their health care provider. Consumers can report the illegal sale of decorative contact lenses without a prescription to CDPH’s Food and Drug Branch Hotline at (800) 495-3232 to initiate an investigation.

For more information on healthy contact lens wear and care, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.