Colored contact lenses are an accessory teens often buy for prom or Halloween, but one size does not fit all.
Those types of contacts can be found at many locations. In fact, our reporter walked right in to a gas station and bought a pair of emerald green lenses and they never asked to see a prescription.
While these contacts can change the color of your eyes, doctors say they can also cause severe and permanent eye damage.
"Until somebody actually loses vision and goes blind from wearing one of these, it may just seem like harmless fun," said Dr. Michael Hodges, an ophthalmologist.
Decorative lenses may look fun, with colors like aquamarine, honey, and crazy cat eye patterns; but what's not fun, Dr. Hodges says, is the damage improperly fitting lenses leave behind.
That's why the FDA banned the sale of decorative contact lenses without a prescription back in 2005.
Some boxes of non-corrective lenses purchased over the counter may say 'FDA Approved' or even 'prescription only,' but that doesn't mean they're legal to sell without a prescription or that they'll fit your eyes.
Not only are these lenses available at some local stores, you can even buy them online from foreign-based websites. One click of a mouse and for around $20, they're yours.
Optometrist Thomas Clark fits patients for contact lenses every day.
"You have to have a certain amount of movement to allow oxygen to flow behind the lens in addition to the amounts that flow through the lens and the tear film, keeping it moist," said Clark.
That lack of oxygen, doctors say, can cause corneal problems, infections, even blindness in extreme cases if not treated properly.
That's why it's important to go to a licensed professional for a proper lens fitting.
"They think because it's this thing that everyone's doing that it's okay to just pop something in your eye, but it really is dangerous," said Matthew Guest, a lens wearer. "Pay attention to your child, especially your teenagers. Notice trends. Try to keep up."
"I think once the word gets out more and more, people won't make these kind of decisions. They know that precious vision is something that you can't afford to lose," said Hodges.
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