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Quick Dose: Are Colored Contact Lenses Safe?

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Whether you’re trying to disguise yourself as a zombie, or just want to turn your brown eyes blue, here’s what you should know before you buy colored or cosmetic contact lenses.

Contacts are not cosmetics or over-the-counter merchandise, and you need a prescription. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the production of contact lenses, and retailers who sell special-effect contacts without a prescription are breaking the law.

Contacts are not one size fits all. Poorly fitting contacts can cause serious eye damage, including corneal abrasions and infection, conjunctivitis and impaired vision. Your eyes should be measured for proper fit by an ophthalmologist or optometrist, who can also look for any pre-existing corneal diseases.

Special-effect contacts are often made of older generation materials that don’t allow much oxygen through the lens. This can lead to irritation and inflammation of the cornea. Some lenses haven’t been approved by the FDA, including the circle lenses that give you a wide-eyed, doll-like look.

If you don’t typically wear contacts, you need proper training on how to clean and care for lenses. Without proper care, you’re at risk for bacterial infections that can rapidly cause corneal ulcers and even blindness.

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