With Halloween rapidly approaching, US federal officials are warning the public about the dangers associated with counterfeit decorative contact lenses. This year 74 seizures with a total of more than 20,000 pairs of counterfeit and decorative contact lenses have been seized.
Currently, the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Office of Criminal Investigations (OCI), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are working to seize counterfeit contact lenses, illegally imported decorative lenses, and lenses unapproved by the FDA.
This ongoing effort, which is being coordinated with the ICE-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) in Washington, is being called “Operation Double Vision.”
Officials are warning consumers not to buy contact lenses from such places as Halloween or novelty shops, salons, beauty supply stores, or online if the site doesn’t require a prescription. Although many places illegally sell decorative contact lenses to consumers without valid prescriptions for as little as $20, these vendors are not authorized distributors of contact lenses, which by law require a prescription.
According to a recent national study conducted for optometrists, 11 percent of consumers have worn decorative lenses, and of those, 53 percent purchased them without a prescription. In some states, contact lenses are available at gas stations, flea markets, beauty supply shops and pawn shops.