Novelty contacts can have real consequences

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – They’ve become some of the most popular costume accessories that can also have some real consequences.

Decorative or novelty contacts lenses can change your eye to virtually any color, but you need to be careful where you buy them from.

“I buy contact lenses thinking my nights going to be great. It wasn’t,” said Angel Williams.
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She was dressing up for a Halloween party and purchased a pair of white contact lenses that made her eyes look frightening.

She had no idea just how scary it’d be.

“I’m thinking I’m blind,” Williams explained. “I’m not going to lie it scared me.”

Williams said they were just a little uncomfortable at first.

“As the night progressed, I’m not really noticing but others are that my eyes are kind of getting red in the corner,” Williams said.

She says she fell asleep with them in and woke up in a blur.

“I take them out and my eyes automatically shut. I cannot open them I’m in so much pain,” said Williams.

Her friend rushed her to the hospital. Her contacts had dried out on her eyes and were scratching her corneas.

“I’m actually sitting on my bathroom floor screaming, it was that bad. I wanted to gouge my own eyes out,” said Williams.

Dr. Lisa Parke O.D. is a veteran optometrist at Northgate Eye Center in Harnett County. She says novelty contact lenses can be very dangerous. She also happened to be festively dressed up for Halloween.

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“If the contact lens is not fitted properly a patient can sustain an infection, a corneal ulcer, they can get inflammation to the eye, redness and pain,” Parke explained. “They must be fitted properly by a licensed optometrist.”

Northgate Eye Center sells FDA approved novelty contact lenses, and Dr. Parke says each pair is carefully prescribed and fitted to each patient.
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Angel says she bought her contacts at Super Beauty World in Fayetteville. WNCN Investigates tried to purchase some but the store clerk said they had sold their last pair.

According to the CDC, anyone selling contact lenses without a prescription is doing it illegally.
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“It is illegal to sell them over the counter like that. This is an FDA medical device and should be treated as such,” said Parke.

Williams said the store did not ask her for a prescription or if she had ever used contacts before. Her doctor says she has about 70 percent of her vision back.

But one thing is crystal clear.

She’ll never buy these lenses again unless it’s from an eye doctor.

“I’d rather give birth. It was that bad,” Williams said.

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