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10 News Extra: Colored contact controversy

12:17 AM, Oct 4, 2011   |    comments
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Jacksonville, Florida -- Color contacts are used to give you a different look, say blue eyes when your eyes are brown. But if you don't get them from a doctor and use them correctly, you could do serious damage to your eye, and one local store had the lenses on the shelves.

A local optician contacted First Coast News after one of his patients saw the lenses at a gas station.

"She had noticed a teenager purchasing contacts at a gas station and she said, 'Hey, is this legal? It doesn't seem legal,'" said optician Vice Cottone.

In Florida it's a felony to sell contact lenses without a prescription. Cottone thought it was so serious, he went out to the gas station himself. "Went out there and checked it out, and sure enough they were selling contact lenses at a gas station," he said.

He called the Clay County Sheriff's Department on Sonny's Convenience store for selling the lenses, and the sheriff's department issued them a cease and desist letter. They told Cottone that they'll be enforcing the ban on the lenses, but he says most people don't understand why it's a serious crime.

"They are non prescription contacts, but they're still a medical device that goes on your eye," he said.

And with that come a number of concerns. "You could go blind. It could be as simple as eye irritation, corneal ulcers, you could scratch your eye," Cottone said.

This summer alone, two young women in Georgia and New York have lost partial vision because of the lenses.

"If you're not taught how to put 'em in or take 'em out properly, what the proper wearing schedule is, all these things lead to a lot of medical concerns," he said.

The time of year is also a concern for Cattone. "They're going to be very enticed to want to buy those Halloween contacts. And not knowing that they're illegal, they're going to get the wrong ones, have some eye injuries," he said.

Though he does caution there are plenty of safe colored contact options. "The best way is to come in and see a professional, see an optometrist, have them evaluate your eyes, make sure you can wear contacts, and then you can get that prescription for colored contacts," he said. 

First Coast News

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