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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Those specialty contact lenses that change your eye's appearance can give your Halloween costume an edge, but if you don't get them from a doctor, you're putting your sight at risk.
The warning marks the first report in our new 12 Defenders series at WSFA 12 news, designed to protect and empower you and your family.
"Worst case scenario, you could lose an eye," said Dr. Michael Bradford of Montgomery Eye Physicians.
Specialty contact lenses have been made popular in movies and music videos, but in those instances, the lenses are by prescription. Doctors say it's the over-the-counter lenses you've got to watch out for.
The FDA has banned the sale of over-the-counter contact lenses, so you won't find them at most reputable costume shops. But a recent hidden camera investigation reveals the lenses are still available. In Montgomery, they are popping up at some gas stations and convenience stores.
First, if a contact lens is not fitted to a patient's eye, it can cause serious abrasions. And more importantly, many specialty contact lens are so opaque that they limit eye's oxygen supply, which can cause painful corneal ulcers.
"A patch of cells on the front of the eye sluffs off and dies for lack of oxygen," explained Dr. Bradford. "Bacteria can also get in there and cause a terrible infection in the front of the eye."
So if you've just got to have those cat eyes for your Halloween costume, don't buy them online or from any un trusted source.
"Make an appointment with your local eye doctor," urged Dr. Bradford. "Make sure that the lens is going to be the right thing for you. And have fun!"
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