Beware of Over-the-Counter Contact Lenses

June 12, 2019

Want to make your brown eyes blue? You've got lots of company. Decorative contact lenses have grown more and more popular. Young people especially like them. You can even find contacts that look like cat eyes or sports team logos.

You can buy contacts with no prescription at some beauty salons, flea markets, and websites. But those contacts may be trouble. The FDA warns that nonprescription contacts raise major risks of blindness and eye injuries.

The dangers linked to contact lens wear often come from less oxygen reaching the cornea. This doesn't change if you're wearing the lenses to fix a vision problem or for cosmetic reasons.

Contacts that aren't correctly prescribed and cared for can cause problems. They can lead to allergic reactions, bacterial infections, corneal ulcers, and corneal scrapes. Some problems can end in blindness.

Nonprescription contacts may offer extra risks. You may not know if they were made with the right materials in clean conditions.

That's why you should visit an eye care provider before you buy contact lenses. He or she will:

  • Decide if contacts are right for you

  • Give you a correct fitting

  • Offer instructions for wear, care, and follow-up exams

Common sense with contacts

Be smart about contact use:

  • Wear only contact lenses that were prescribed by an eye care provider.

  • Wash your hands with soap and water every time before touching your contacts.

  • Always clean, disinfect, and store lenses as you were taught.

  • Don't buy contact lenses from anyone who is not licensed to sell them.

  • Never share or swap contact lenses.

  • Don't sleep in your contacts unless advised by your eye care provider.

  • Don't store your contacts in water. Remove them before showering, swimming, or using a hot tub. A serious eye infection called keratitis can be caused by a parasite found in some water.

  • Have your eyes checked regularly according to your eye care provider's advice?

Latest News

October 27, 2021
Tameka Lewis, administrative assistant at the George Washington University (GW) Medical Faculty Associates (MFA), finds inspiration and happiness in her work with colleagues and patients – and the feeling is mutual. In Lewis’s daily life, gratitude is easy to come by. Here, she talks about what she…
October 20, 2021
Saundra Obidiaso, medical assistant at the George Washington University (GW) Medical Faculty Associates (MFA), has one of the greatest joys in medicine: She gets to help bring new life into the world. She has also had an opportunity to grow in a department that has nurtured her ambitions with…
October 18, 2021
Cindy Lovoz, a medical administrative specialist at the George Washington University (GW) Medical Faculty Associates (MFA), is the kind of person every medical center needs: a selfless helper. She ensures everything runs smoothly for both patients and the health care team, and she genuinely enjoys…