Novelty contacts being sold illegally in the area

Amarillo, TX - Novelty colored contacts are being sold in our area illegally and could cause long-term damage to your eyes.

The American and Texas Optometric Association are warning consumers about the risks of wearing decorative contact lenses without a prescription, but even with the warning they continue to be sold around town.

VJ Mayhew is one of those who is dispensing the colored contacts without a prescription.

"I have been selling them for five years and I've never had anyone come back to me saying that they've had a problem with them. They're just like if you get a prescription contact, you have to take care of them," says VJ Mayhew, Sy's Costuming at Amarillo Scaregrounds.

A survey done this year by the American Optometric Association states that out of those wearing decorative lenses, 36 percent report purchasing them without a prescription.

This concerns local optometrists.

"If the contact doesn't fit correctly it can cause some irritation, if it causes some irritation that allows the normal bacteria around the eye to get in and wreak havoc. That can lead to conjunctivitis and depending on the bacteria, that could produce permanent blindness within 24 hours," says Dr. Lee Shuwarger, optometrist at Unique Vision Care.

Dr. Shuwarger has treated patients who have used novelty contacts and are left with permanent damage.

"I've had a few patients come back to see me because of these colored contact lenses and they come back with infections. Some infections have resulted in scars on their eyes and it's really hard to see through a scar," says Dr. Lee Shuwarger, optometrist at Unique Vision Care.

If you are interested in getting colored contact lenses it's important that you come to the eye doctor to get an eye exam, contact lens fitting and follow-up care.

This can help prevent problems in the future.

Federal law requires the FDA to regulate decorative lenses as medical devices, making it illegal for them to be sold without first being seen by a doctor.

VJ Mayhew says she isn't selling prescription contacts but is still making sure kids use them with caution.

"The parent does sign a consent form that they have bought them for their kids. That means they agree that the child will not share the contacts with anyone else which is very very important," says VJ Mayhew, Sy's Costuming at Amarillo Scaregrounds.