Thursday, July 7, 2011

DANGER: Contact Lenses For Cosmetic Purposes

Protecting Our Young Girls

This past July 1st, 2011, a young girl of only 14 years of age, may now need to have a corneal transplant due to scarring brought about by infection from wearing colored circle lenses for only a single day.

Apparently, this is the latest "eye candy" trend and they are being offered for sale by disreputable websites and in many beauty stores and dollar stores, which is ILLEGAL without prescription. However, our young girls apparently don't know this or have found this to be a way to avoid having to see a doctor to get the prescription, due to costs.

In the beauty stores and online, they are selling for $20 bucks. This makes them easily accessible to any girl that simply walks in off the street, or hits the "buy now" button on her computer.

The Doe Eyed Look

Apparently Lady Gaga (pictured left) wore a pair in her music video "Bad Romance" and the craze began. What most girls don't realize, is even though the circle lenses which make the eye appear slightly larger since the color goes past the cornea and covers the white of the eyes, Lady Gaga's doe eyes were enhanced further with computer generation.

Michelle Phan (pictured right) who is a makeup guru on YouTube also demonstrated how to use them showing her new doe eyed look which included full tutorial of eye makeup as well, to help others to emulate Lady Gaga, but she openly shows whomever watches, how she computer generates them to be larger than you actually can achieve.

Unfortunately, Michelle Phan makes this about having fun which again is geared toward our young girls. She at no time explains how to care for them or that a prescription is needed by a popular commercialized guru, shouldn't she bear some responsibility to our young girls by advising they can cause harm without the proper care, and that they should be properly fitted by your eye doctor when showing these tutorials, especially since this video received over 22 million hits? All our youth see are the super attractive large doe eyes and want it also, so they head out to their nearest beauty or dollar store to purchase these illegal contacts.

I think her videos are great, but as an advice guru, some caution should be considered about what she is advising to those susceptible during the most formative years of their life. As I looked further, she has actually done quite a few other tutorials for changing the look of the eyes through the use of circle, color or anime (ever popular Japanese cartoon look) contact lenses.

Shame On Them

This young girl, who's story is all over the internet was not advised on how to use them, store them, or clean them. These contact lenses are currently being imported to the U.S. from Asia, so they are not made here in the U.S. due to the laws surrounding the sale and purchase of contact lenses.

The FTC also warns about the lenses being tainted and not manufactured under the sterile conditions required under U.S. strict guidelines. They also have issued Warning Notices to 15 Marketers in 2007 to have valid prescriptions or face severe penalties.

The FDA has Warned In 2002 and will attempt seizure of imported contact lenses coming into the U.S. illegally that are for the purposes of cosmetic purposes. The FDA Updated the information in 2009, which includes a video on those that use these for Halloween effects making the dangers all too real. Furthermore, recent legislation has made it illegal to market decorative contact lenses as over-the-counter products. But again, as I have stated in the past, with FDA resources so scarce, it is difficult to enforce the laws surrounding contact lenses.

So though this latest story is new and recent, apparently the laws are not, nor has this problem just begun. But it seems with the release of the Lady Gaga video, this set off the firestorm of sales we are now seeing today, which has warranted more media attention and FDA and FTC warnings.

This lack of concern for our health by these overseas contact manufacturers, is a prime example of exploiting our youth with their desires to emulate movie and music stars which use these lenses to enhance their appearance, all for a buck. If you operate a business in this country, the laws are clear and should be followed, which as a beauty store owner, they know, or should know what they are doing, is illegal. As many of us have heard the quote at some point, depending on our years on this earth, "ignorance of the law is no excuse."

All contact lenses must be issued with a prescription since they must be fitted for the shape of the cornea, instructions for proper care are issued, along with instructions for safe application and how long they should be kept in before removal to keep the delicate eye safe.

The Aftermath

Now Erica Barnes is paying the price from just wearing her lenses overnight, where bacteria was able to flourish causing a serious infection. Doctors say it was from improper fit and from being advised by the sales girl at this "nameless" beauty store, she could simply use (unsanitary) tap water for cleaning them.

Due to the infection, she now has corneal scarring, and without a transplant will have ongoing excruciating pain and blindness in the eye most affected. Ulcerations of the eye are also a probability if these lenses are used.

Take Action

Hopefully, this store will be held accountable by legal means for offering these for sale without prescription. Media attention is definitely making the information widely available, however, not everyone, especially our youth, pay attention to the news. And in the spirit of an impressionable teenage girl, they want what they want when they want it, especially if it is the latest fad. I only wish they had named the beauty chain that did this in order to give them a wake up call, you cannot do this without serious ramifications. Our health is at risk and they are practicing illegal behavior which caused harm, without sanctions.

Please spread the word to our young daughters or grand daughters. Educate them about the likelihood of infection or worse, if they purchase these cosmetic contact lenses without a doctors care. Also, the way these are promoted is definitely toward our young girls. They are sold in storage cases resembling cartoons such as Hello Kitty.

What young girl doesn't know all about this favorite cartoon cat?
Looks fun doesn't it, like dress up?
What young girl doesn't enjoy dress up with makeup and the whole deal just to emulate either her mom or her favorite movie star?

This kind of beauty comes at too high a price by sacrificing our eyes and possibly losing our eyesight. Treat the eyes with gentle care, but if you must have this look or your daughter wants this look, guide her and make sure your eye doctor is involved, and be fitted properly, along with receiving proper care instructions of the lenses and your eyes.

To see and read the stories behind this latest fashion trend phenomenon causing a hazard for the eyes, click on the links below. Video is included with the stories for further details on the stories.

ABC News Good Morning America on $20.00 Contact Lenses Cause Corneal Scarring Video at the top of the article should begin playing automatically or you will need to wait for complete loading before clicking on the arrow for playing it. The video is dated, but the latest article is the most recent casualty of what can go seriously wrong.

Shops Selling Contact Lenses Like Eye Candy To view video you can click on it at the bottom of the article. Includes interview with eye doctor.


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