Medical professionals have a warning about a gimmick appearing on some retail counters — contact lenses that can make your eyes look like a pumpkin or flaunt your team’s logo. Optometrist Dr Robert Sharp is past president of the Iowa Optometric Association and says contacts to change eye color have been popular for years. He says in recent years manufacturers sell the lenses in a cat-eye design, spirals, and other designer patterns, and the doctor says it can be fun. The government’s cracking down on convenience stores and other retail dealers who’ve started trying to sell the contact lenses over the counter with no prescription. He says it’s not an optometrists’ rule that they do it, it’s a requirement of the FDA, the national Food and Drug Administration, which requires a prescription for contacts because they’re a medical device — and Sharp says there have been documented cases of eye injury from the products. Just like regular contacts, Dr. Sharp says the designer lenses can correct for flawed vision, but carry their own dangers.He says there’s a little opening in the mostly-colored plastic that lets in light, but he says they must be positioned just right on the eye or else the opaque paint will block your vision. Dr. Sharp says he carries the designer lenses and so do many professionals, but he says any user must take care. He says just like anything put onto the eye it can affect the blood vessels, the oxygen supply to the front of the eye, it can get viruses or bacteria stuck on it — anything that can happen when you put something in your eye. If cat-fashioned or pumpkin-colored eyes appeal to you, Sharp says you just need to get an expert’s help making them fit your needs. Sharp says while you may be able to purchase the designer contacts over the Internet or in a department store, you should have the family eye doctor check the fit and correction, so you can enjoy yourself safely. Sharp’s also a former president of the Iowa Board of Optometry Examiners.
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