'Crazy Contacts' can cause damage to eye

By WEEK Producer

October 17, 2012 Updated Oct 17, 2012 at 6:37 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- They're sometimes called 'crazy contacts'. The colored, cosmetic contacts are popular at Halloween and can often be found online and at costume shops.

But they're also dangerous, as one area high school student learned during a visit to the school nurse for eye irritation.

"The school nurse said, 'have you done anything differently? Have you been around anybody, have you been exposed to conjunctivitis or an eye infection in any way?' And the student said, 'the only thing I'm doing different is...' and popped out this contact lens," explained Dr. Brian Zachariah, chief medical coordinator for the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

Zachariah's office was subsequently contacted and it confiscated over 100 of the cosmetic lenses from the central Illinois convenience store where the student purchased them.

Selling the 'crazy contacts' to someone without a prescription is a violation of state law.

Dr. Jacqueline Crow, an optometrist at Illinois Eye Center, says wearing them isn't very smart either.

"Wearing contacts in general can put you at a higher risk for eye infections," Crow said. "The second concern is that, for contacts, one size does not fit all. And the third concern is that these contacts are not necessarily FDA approved."

Dr. Crow advises people to consult a professional when looking for cosmetic contacts and warns be careful what you put in your eyes just to make a splash at that Halloween party you're planning to attend.

"Everyone wants to augment their costumes, add special effects and give their costumes a special touch," said Crow. "But by buying contacts over the counter, those are not fit to your eye and they can damage your vision."

Selling the contacts without a prescription can also hurt, carrying fines of up to $10,000.