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Halloween contact lenses may cause nasty infection

Halloween is coming, and thanks to celebrities – specifically Lady Gaga – many girls may want to extend their costumes to their eyes.

In her "Bad Romance" video, Lady Gaga appeared to have larger-than-life eyes. And while her eyes were computer generated, the "circle" colored contacts are available online from Asian manufacturers for about $20-$30, with or without vision correction.

But not only are they illegal, they can permanently damage your eyes and even make you go blind, said Dr. Elliott H. Myrowitz, an assistant professor and chief of Optometric Services at the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute. He's joining a chorus of doctors, organizations and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in warning consumers off these products.

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He specializes in complex contact lense fittings, and said he's not seen an uptick in people coming in for treatment of infections and other problems from these circle lenses. But he has seen infections from people not caring properly for their lenses. He worries a dangerous trend may be emerging.

So, now seems like a good time to remind people to follow some basics of contact lense care:

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+Do not buy your contacts online without a doctor's prescription. The FDA considers them medical devices. Dr. Myrowitz said you need a doctor to make sure the lenses fit properly and won't damage your eye.

+Do not share lenses, keep them for longer than the recommended length of time, sleep in the lenses or reuse cleaning or storing solution. Do wash your hands before handing the lenses, change your case periodically and rub them with disinfectant before storage – no matter what the bottle of solution says.

+If your eyes are red and sore or your vision is not normal for more than an hour after you remove your lenses or there is a discharge, get to your eye doctor as soon as you can. Infections caught early are easier to treat. Those allowed to fester can lead to tough infections and even permanent damage that requires a cornea transplant.

So, the message from Dr. Myrowitz is: Take proper care of your lenses. And Halloween lenses aren't worth the risk.

Anyone have an experience with lenses that can drive his lesson home?

Associated Press photo 

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