Virginia Board of Optometry alerts consumers of risks with decorative contact lenses

newspaperAs consumers prepare for Halloween, the Virginia Board of Optometry is supporting the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to caution against the use of non-corrective, decorative contact lenses sold without a prescription or proper fitting by a licensed eye care professional.

According to the FDA, improperly fitted and poor quality decorative contact lenses present a risk for blindness and other eye injury.  The fda reports that many places illegally sell decorative contact lenses without valid prescriptions and states that consumers should never buy lenses from unauthorized distributors such as street vendors, beach shops, flea markets, beauty supply stores or salons and tattoo parlors. Medical practitioners report an uptick in the number of patients being treated for damage to their eyes. Health hazards include scratched cornea, corneal infection, decreased vision and allergic reaction that can cause permanent loss of sight.

“The Board of Optometry is very concerned about the risks of contact lenses being provided by unlicensed persons,” Leslie Knachel, Virginia Board of Optometry Executive Director said.  “In fact, the Code of Virginia prohibits the selling or dispensing of contact lenses, including cosmetic lenses, without being properly licensed as an optometrist or an optician.”

Consumers and optometrists are advised to contact MedWatch, the fda voluntary reporting program to report a problem linked to the use of cosmetic contact lenses.

The Virginia Board of Optometry, which licenses and regulates 1,600 optometrists, recommends consumers follow these fda tips when purchasing contact lenses.

  • Get an eye exam from a licensed eye care practitioner
  • Get a valid prescription from a licensed eye care practitioner
  • Only buy contact lenses from a seller that requires a prescription
  • Follow contact lens care instructions
  • Seek medical attention if eyes are sore or red or a decrease in vision is noticed after use of contact lenses
  • Never share contact lenses

To file a complaint regarding the inappropriate sale of cosmetic contact lenses or other issues related to the practice of optometry or any health profession, please visit

The Virginia Board of Optometry is one of 13 health regulatory boards that together compose the Department of Health Professions (DHP) to ensure safe and competent patient care by licensing health professionals, enforcing standards of practice, and providing information to health care practitioners and the public.


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