Counterfeit Halloween Contacts Pose Risk for Eye Infections

Counterfeit Halloween Contacts Pose Risk for Eye Infections

A Halloween fashion statement is now turning into a spooky risk for severe eye infections.

ROCKFORD- Rows of outfits, wigs, and make-up line Rockford Rentals, 1921 Broadway Street. And the finishing touch to the perfect costume? For many it's Halloween or theatrical contacts.

"Every year young people learn about how cool this is and their parents may not know that it's potentially dangerous," said Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation Spokeswoman Susan Hofer.

Because of that danger the lenses have been pulled from store shelves in Illinois. Beauty supply stores have been fined up to $10,000 for selling them without a prescription.

"Anytime that you're wearing a contact that's not properly fit for you or determined for your eye it can actually cause infection, corneal ulcers, or blindness," said Miller Eye Center’s Dr. Jennifer Dungan.

It’s only legal to buy the lenses after being fitted for them by an eye care professional. Doctor Dungan says she's seen many patients with painful infections from specialty contacts when not fitted properly.

"We don't want to be fit in a contact that's not for your eye. And if you're wearing them improperly again it increases the chance of infection dramatically," said Dr. Jennifer Dungan.

Rockford Rentals Owner Larry LaGrange explains 50 to 100 people used to stop in his store for the contacts every Halloween season.

"With contacts there are so many different varieties and styles of them and everybody is looking for something different. And it did take a percentage of our sales away," explained Lagrange.

LaGrange now sends customers to local optometrists.

Illinois residents are encouraged to notify state officials if they see lenses for sale at retail outlets that don't require a prescription from an eye doctor. 

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