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Whether you’re thinking about a cool costume, or you’ve always wondered what you would look like with brilliant blue eyes, you may have considered wearing decorative contact lenses. Decorative contact lenses seem like a neat trick, and they’re used in movies and on television all the time. But, exactly how safe are decorative contact lenses?

If you’re not careful, you can do a lot of damage to your eyes with a pair of decorative contact lenses. Unlike fashion glasses, fashion contacts sit directly on your eye, and can present a lot of issues if they aren’t properly fitted and used. Consider the following factors before you buy a pair.

CONTACTS ARE NOT OVER-THE-COUNTER PRODUCTS

If you regularly wear contact lenses, you already know that you need a special prescription for lenses that will correct your vision and fit your eye properly. According to the FDA, contact lenses should not be sold as “decorative” or “cosmetic,” and retailers that sell them over the counter are actually breaking the law by doing so.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT THAT CONTACTS REQUIRE PRESCRIPTIONS?

Each eye is shaped slightly differently. Whether you have astigmatism, myopia, presbyopia, or perfect 20/20 vision, your eyes are unlike anyone else’s in the whole world. Purchasing lenses that are not specifically made for your eyes significantly increases your risk for:

  • A scratched cornea
  • Impaired vision or blindness
  • Corneal infection

Furthermore, the FDA warns, decorative lenses very rarely come with any kind of instructions for use or care. If you don’t have a proper case for your lenses, and you don’t use saline solution to keep them clean, you’re increasing your risk for contracting conjunctivitis or another bacterial infection.

Though all of this information may have you thinking decorative lenses are a bad idea, you don’t have to give up on the idea of changing your eye color. You just need to make sure that you get properly fitted prescription lenses.

DO NOT BUY DECORATIVE LENSES WITHOUT A PRESCRIPTION

Don’t buy decorative lenses from any retailer that sells “one size fits all” lenses. For example, do not purchase decorative contacts from a novelty store, convenience store, street vendor, or salon.

GET A PRESCRIPTION

If your eyes do not require corrective lenses, make an appointment with a qualified ophthalmologist to undergo an eye exam. When you go in for your exam, ask your eye doctor if you can have a prescription for contact lenses. This way, you’ll get the right lenses fitted to your eyes, and you won’t have to worry about injuring your vision when you use them.

Once you have your prescription, find a contact lens dealer that has the design or color you want and that requires a prescription. If you’re having trouble finding a dealer, ask your ophthalmologist for recommendations. This is the only way to ensure the safety of your vision with decorative contacts.

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