A Michigan teen has been left partially blind in one eye after using an illegal pair of costume contacts she bought a the mall, the Detroit ABC affiliate WXYZ reoports.
Leah Carpenter, a 17-year-old high school senior, told the station that she bought the contacts at a kiosk in her local mall and wore them as a Halloween costume with several friends—"zombies with creepy contact lenses."
The very next day, her mother Dawn noticed her daughter's eye had swollen up and was very red. Fearing pinkeye, she took her daughter to the ophthalmologist and learned the truth was even worse: the lens had torn off a layer of the girl's cornea.
These lenses are illegal to sell and buy without a valid prescription in the United States. However, they are a popular item to buy, especially around Halloween, because they change the physical appearance of the eye without altering your vision.
The FDA offers several reasons why these lenses are a bad idea on their website, including how the lenses, unless prescribed by a doctor, are not guaranteed to fit an individual's eye and can lead to damage. The FDA correctly notes that your eye health is a "high price to pay for fashion."
Decorative lenses have been illegal for years now in the United States. They made waves several years ago when "circular lenses" saw growing popularity among teens looking to make their eyes wider-looking, following a Lady Gaga video. These lenses were also blamed for a bacterial infection outbreak in Thailand in 2011.
As for Leah Carpenter, she's recovering but could face surgery and that still won't fix everything. “I missed out on homecoming. My school work is really behind,” she told WXYZ. “My vision is not going to be 100%. I have a long road.”
Learn more about the risks involved with decorative lenses and proper channels to acquire them here.
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