Thinking about jazzing up your eyes with some colored contacts for Halloween? Um, think again: a week before Halloween, the FDA is warning that eccentric lenses can damage your eyes, leaving you vision-comprised and potentially blind . (And you thought that post-Halloween hangover was going to suck.) Don't panic just yet — standard colored contact lenses, which are regulated by the FDA and must be approved before they hit the market, won't harm your eyes. But a lot of the more "interesting" contact lenses available for purchase — you know, thunderbolts, white irises, football pupils, and so on — are actually counterfeit or illegally imported, meaning that the FDA has no sway over them. And when it comes to stuff that you insert into your eyeballs, not having FDA approval is probably a bad idea.
Ever heard of "Operation Double Vision?" Sounds like the aftereffects of a few shots to us, but it's actually a collaborative effort by the FDA, Homeland Security, and Customs And Border Protection to dispel America of counterfeit lenses. It's mid-way through its plan to seize illegally imported lenses, which are relatively easy to pick up in America without problems.
Apparently, to legally get colored contacts, you need a special prescription from an optometrist. But you can often still find the contacts at novelty shops, beauty stores, and Halloween shops. And if you're buying them illegally, chances are you're not exactly getting top-notch goods. And by "not top-notch," we of course mean "potentially blinding."
The problem here is that when contacts don't fit right, they can scratch the eye and cause infections and/or ulcers, which in turn can lead to severe and long-term vision problems. For example, bacterial eye infections can potentially wipe out your vision in 24 hours. According to CBS, you only have to wear a badly-made contact in your eye for a second or two for it to scratch your eye and cause an infection.
People who buy contacts on Halloween often haven't used them before, and so don't know how they're meant to feel, or how to put them in correctly. Furthermore, think about your hands on Halloween: they're probably covered in face paint and makeup even pre-melted chocolate binge. Now, imagine all of that bacteria being trapped by the contact inside your eye. Then stop imagining it, because it's gross and awful.
The FDA's criminal investigations director told Fox News: "Our concern is that consumers who buy and use decorative contact lenses without a valid prescription can run significant risks of eye injuries, including blindness."
Not to mention, explaining that you lost some of your vision because you absolutely had to be a convincing mummy on Oct. 31 makes for a terrible story.