With nearly 41 million adults in the U.S. wearing contact lenses as a safe and popular form of vision correction, there is a growing trend among Americans to alter the appearance or color of the eyes by using decorative contact lenses. However, if these lenses are bought illegally and without a prescription from your eye doctor, they could lead to serious health issues and potentially damage your eyesight permanently.
“Many consumers consider these lenses a fashion or costume accessory when, in reality, decorative lenses are also classified as medical devices and still pose the same potential safety and health issues as corrective contact lenses and require a prescription,” said Andrea P. Thau, O.D., president of the American Optometric Association (AOA).
The AOA recommends contact lens wearers take proper steps to protect their eyes and maintain a consistent hygiene routine, including:
•See a doctor of optometry for a comprehensive eye examination and proper fitting and prescription for decorative contacts lenses, even if you don’t require lenses to correct your vision.
•Never buy lenses from retail outlets or online sites that don’t require a prescription.
•Always follow the recommended contact lens replacement schedule prescribed by your eye doctor.
•Wash and dry hands before handling contact lenses.
•Carefully and regularly use cleaning solution to rub the lenses with fingers and rinse thoroughly before soaking overnight in multi-purpose disinfectant solution.
•Use fresh solution to clean and store contact lenses – never reuse old solution.
•Only use products recommended by your eye doctor to clean and disinfect lenses. Saline solution and rewetting drops do not disinfect lenses.
•Store lenses in the proper storage case and replace your case every three months. In addition, cases should be rubbed with clean fingers, rinsed with solution, dried with a tissue and stored upside-down when not in use.
•Remove contact lenses before exposing them to water.
See your optometrist immediately if you experience redness, pain, irritation or blurred vision while wearing your lenses.
For more information about contact lens hygiene and safety, the risks associated with decorative contact lenses and to find an optometrist near you, visit aoa.org.