Los Angeles Ophthalmologist Dr. Babak Shabatian Warns that Halloween Contact Lenses May Cause Permanent Damage to Eyes

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Halloween is around the corner, and those who plan to transform themselves into cats, vampires, or werewolves by wearing decorative, nonprescription contact lenses could be making a dangerous decision. Over-the-counter contact lenses are sold illegally, said Los Angeles Eye Surgeon Dr. Babak Shabatian, and can cause eye problems ranging from infections to blindness.

These decorative, non-corrective lenses can pose serious risks to eye health. A poor fit can seriously damage the eyes, from scratches to the cornea, to infection or conjunctivitis.

Although they are popular and readily accessible during Halloween, decorative contact lenses sold from a source other than an eye doctor can cause irreparable harm to the eyes. Buying contact lenses without a prescription puts consumers at risk, because all contacts require a proper medical evaluation including precise fitting and follow-up care. Contact lenses should not be purchased from any vendor not authorized by law to dispense them, said Los Angeles Eye Surgeon Dr. Babak Shabatian.

“The sale of contact lenses as fashion accessories is a serious public health concern,” said Dr. Shabatian. “These decorative, non-corrective lenses can pose serious risks to eye health. A poor fit can seriously damage the eyes, from scratches to the cornea, to infection or conjunctivitis.”

Since 2005, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has regulated these decorative lenses as medical devices and federal law prohibits their sale over-the-counter, where they are often marketed as fashion accessories. Decorative contact lenses, which are sold illegally without valid prescriptions, can be as inexpensive as $20, and the FDA warns that consumers should never purchase them from street vendors, beauty supply stores, novelty stores, or other unauthorized retailers.

The American Optometric Association’s (AOA) 2012 American Eye-Q® consumer survey found that 18 percent of Americans wear decorative lenses, with nearly one-third of those reported purchasing the lenses illegally from a source other than an eye care professional.

"There is no such thing as a 'one size fits all' contact lens," said Dr. Randall Fuerst, chair of the AOA's Contact Lens & Cornea Section, in a statement. "Decorative contact lenses carry the same risks as corrective contact lenses. Because of this, it's important for consumers to obtain a prescription and familiarize themselves with the information available from an eye doctor to reduce the risk of infection.”

To buy decorative contact lenses safely, Dr. Shabatian recommends getting an eye exam from an ophthalmologist or optometrist to obtain a valid prescription, which includes the brand name, lens measurements, and expiration date. Even though the lenses are decorative, they require the same direction for cleaning, disinfecting, and wearing, Dr. Shabatian emphasized.

“When purchasing decorative lenses, it’s possible you’ll pay a small price to achieve the look you want for Halloween, but the medical bills you may acquire will rapidly add up,” said Dr. Shabatian. “If you want to wear decorative lenses, take the extra time to go to your doctor and pay the extra money to save yourself the agony of losing your sight.”

About Dr. Babak Shabatian
Dr. Babak Shabatian is a Board-Certified Ophthalmic Surgeon who practices comprehensive ophthalmology with a focus on advanced cataract surgery and LASIK. He received his medical degree from Boston University School of Medicine and was Chief Resident at the prestigious North Shore – Long Island Jewish Hospital. He completed fellowship training in retina and vitreous diseases at SUNY Downstate and Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, New York. He is frequently invited to lecture on topics of refractive and advanced cataract surgery. He has performed thousands of procedures with excellent and predictable results, and has a sense of compassion and positive energy with his patients. Dr. Shabatian states that eye surgery gives him the opportunity to transform lives in minutes, and he is committed to ensuring that his patients have a great experience at every level of their care.

About CaliEye
CaliEye has a team of committed, experienced professionals who offer only the greatest quality of care and safety to every one of our patients. Dr. Shabatian has performed thousands of procedures in Southern California using only the most state of the art equipment. CaliEye will address all of your questions and concerns with the highest level of respect and understanding. To learn more, call (310) 909-8880 or visit http://www.calieye.com.

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