Peter C. Harvey, Attorney General  
Division of Consumer Affairs
Reni Erdos, Director
For Immediate Release:
October 25, 2004
For Further Information Contact:
Jeff Lamm, Genene Morris, 973-504-6327

Warning Issued Over Cosmetic Contact Lenses

NEWARK As children and adults alike prepare for Halloween this year, Attorney General Peter C. Harvey and Consumer Affairs Director Reni Erdos are warning consumers against purchasing and using cosmetic contact lenses as part of a Halloween costume without first obtaining a prescription.

Even if the contact lenses are not designed to improve vision, the wearer must be examined to ensure the cosmetic lenses fit properly and do not damage the eye.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has reported a number of risks associated with cosmetic contact lenses including: conjunctivitis (an infection of the eye); corneal edema (swelling); allergic reaction; and corneal abrasion from poor lens fits.

"Cosmetic lenses may look great with your Halloween costume, but the real scare is in the serious harm these lenses can cause," Attorney General Harvey said. "Consumers should look to a licensed professional to obtain any type of contact lenses, including those that are purely cosmetic."

Under New Jersey and federal law, contact lenses may only be obtained with a written prescription and from licensed individuals. Despite this, the New Jersey State Board of Ophthalmic Dispensers has received complaints from consumers and licensed professionals about the sale of cosmetic contact lenses by unlicensed individuals and injuries that have resulted.

"Our eyesight is too precious to trust to just anyone especially to someone who is untrained and unlicensed," Director Erdos said. "That means being examined by a licensed ophthalmologist or optometrist who can determine if you are a suitable candidate for the lenses, who can fit you for the products and who can give you a prescription for them. It also means going to a licensed optician who can dispense the lenses and give you instructions on the proper handling and care for the lenses."

Consumers can report the unlicensed sale of cosmetic contact lenses to the State Board of Ophthalmic Dispensers at 973-504-6435.

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Posted October 2004