Warning for Consumers: Popular Halloween Eye Wear Accessory Can Permanently Damage Eyes

    Consumers urged not to buy decorative contact lenses without a

    OTTAWA, Oct. 27 /CNW/ - Eye care professionals are warning consumers
about the risks of wearing decorative contact lenses without a prescription.
These non-corrective lenses are easily accessible to consumers and are
especially popular around Halloween.
    Decorative lenses are marketed and distributed directly to consumers
through a variety of sources including flea markets, the Internet, beauty
salons and convenience stores. Consumers often find them at retail outlets
where they are sold as fashion accessories. Similar to conventional contact
lens types, decorative lenses sold at Halloween often cover a larger portion
of the eye (known as 'scleral' lenses). These lenses can be particularly
problematic because they are far more difficult to remove than other lenses,
they do not have the same level of oxygen permeability as other lenses and all
the risks associated with corneal oxygen deprivation are multiplied many times
over. Inflammation and ulceration can develop quickly and could result in
permanent damage to the eye and to vision.
    "Buying contact lenses without a prescription involves serious health
care risks because sellers may not be contact lens specialists," said Dr. Cal
Breslin, chair of the National Coalition for Vision Health (NCVH). "After
purchasing the decorative lenses, consumers often receive no formal education
and instruction, which puts the responsibility to learn proper cleaning and
disinfecting, as well as removal and application, on the consumer.
    "While consumer education is important, it is equally imperative to
ensure that only people who are instructed in the proper use of contacts are
able to sell them," said Dr. Breslin. The Federal Government moved to regulate
non prescription cosmetic contact lenses as medical devices, but Bill C50 died
on the order paper with the Federal election call. The NCVH is looking forward
to the Bill being reintroduced and approved in the next session of Parliament.
    People who buy and wear contact lenses without professional guidance and
a valid prescription put themselves at risk for ocular inflammation, bacterial
infection or mechanical damage to the eye, with the potential of irreversible
loss of sight. A proper eye health evaluation can determine whether or not
patients are viable candidates to wear contact lenses and if they are capable
of wearing contact lenses without problems.

    About the National Coalition for Vision Health

    NCVH is an organization of associations that share a common interest in
eye care and vision research. The Coalition provides national leadership on
Canada's vision health issues and in the development of related public policy.
NCVH accomplishes its goals through the mandates of its member associations by
consultation, collaboration, advocacy, research, education and service. The
Coalition believes that all Canadians are entitled to full and equal access to
eye care. See: www.visionhealth.ca

For further information:

For further information: For media inquiries, contact Ms. Charlene
Muller, Executive Director, NCVH at charlene.muller@sunnybrook.ca, (416)
480-5091 or Lauren Bondar, Fleishman Hillard at lauren.bondar@fleishman.ca,
(416) 645-8190

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