Monday, October 3, 2011

OTC Contact Lenses Can Cause Permanent Eye Damage

CONTACT LENSES: A young woman wears cat's eye contact lens. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recently warned that decorative lenses could damage eyes. Photo courtesy:

Contact lenses that are decorative and over-the-counter, such as glow-in-the-dark or striped lenses, could be damaging to the eyes, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Wearing the lenses could lead to infections, inflammation, vision loss, and general pain, the AAO added.

Many of the decorative lenses are advertised as being fashion accessories, toys, or cosmetics, but researchers say all contact lenses need to be fitted by an eye doctor. During Halloween, many young people purchase odd-colored lenses to go with their costume.

"Many people believe that decorative lenses don't require the same," said Thomas Steinemann, MD, professor of ophthalmology at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and a researcher with the AAO, in a statement.

“In fact, permanent eye damage can occur from using over-the-counter lenses,” Dr. Steinemann added. “Any type of contact lens is a medical device that requires a prescription and proper fitting by an eye care professional.”

Often times, they are advertised as “one size fits all,” or they say there’s “no need to see a specialist," which the AAO says is false advertising. level of care or consideration because they can be purchased over-the-counter or on the Internet.

"Consumers need to know that permanent eye damage can occur from using over-the-counter lenses," Dr. Steinemann said. "Personally, I have seen far too many serious cases in both children and adults from using decorative lenses. My most recent case was a patient who was only 12 years old."

If lenses are not properly fitted, they could scratch the eye, or if they are not cleaned, they could cause infection, and can lead to the swelling of blood vessels in the cornea. The AAO recommends having an eye specialist measure each eye before getting lenses.


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