Operation Double Vision
This time of year brings people the opportunity to dress up, be something else. Some people dress from head to toe including eye, ears, nose, and mouth. For the eyes, that often includes decorative and colored contact lenses. Apparently, these are very popular, especially around Halloween. However, doctors and health officials strongly warn against these Halloween contact lenses. In fact, many health officials including those at the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Office of Criminal Investigations, US Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations, and US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), “are working to seize counterfeit contact lenses, illegally imported decorative lenses and lenses unapproved by the FDA” as one United Press International (UPI) article explains. They call this project “Operation Double Vision.”
The problem rests in the fact that medical professionals who can check our eye health do not regulate many of these counterfeit decorative and colored lenses. The medical officials worry about the impact that these fake lenses could have on our eyes. The damage can possibly last a lifetime. This hardly seems worth it for one night’s creepy eyes. Yet many people will purchase fake decorative or colored lenses from Halloween or novelty shops, salons, beauty supply stores, or online without a prescription. Officials from the FDA, ICE, and CBP all warn against this.
The UPI article summarized James Dinkins, executive director of the Homeland Security Investigations, as saying, “Although many places illegally sell decorative contact lenses to consumers without valid prescriptions for as little as $20, these vendors are not authorized distributors of contact lenses, which by law require a prescription.”
The FDA regulates contact lenses because of their role with eye health. If contact lenses are used from unknown sources, then there is more potential for lifelong damage to the eyes. The FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations director, John Roth, said, “It is always better to involve a qualified eye care professional and protect your vision.” This seems like sound advice.
I do not wear contact lenses, and honestly I did not even know that people could get Halloween-themed decorative and colored lenses until I read this UPI article. I have not seen someone else wearing these nor did I know that the general public had access to such costume additions. Even if I did know about them, I would not have used them because my eyes are so important to my career and my passions. I do not risk damaging them more than regular aging does.
I also am not a big costume person. In fact, when I was little I was either a witch, princess or ballerina, or, well, witch or princess or ballerina. These were easy and convenient. As an adult, I do not recall really dressing up except once, and I was a dark fairy. Again, it was easy. Putting on a costume that includes contact lenses is not in my purview. I mean, I think they are cool and all. Or at least I probably would if I ever saw someone with them, but I would never promote others to risk their eye health.
If I were to ever put on a costume that decorative or colored contact lenses would make perfect, I would go to my optometrist for a prescription. A good costume is cool, but it probably is not worth permanent eye damage.
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