With Halloween approaching, feds take aim at illegally imported lenses

Posted by Rob Hotakainen on October 24, 2013 

This close-up of a woman's eye shows a decorative contact lens intended to make her look like she has a cat's eye.


It's called "Operation Double Vision," an effort to stop the flow of illegally imported decorative lenses and counterfeit contact lenses that appeal to kids at Halloween.

With the big day only one week away, federal officials are warning the public to be on the lookout for the lenses, which they say can cause permanent damage to the eyes.

It's illegal to buy or sell contact lenses of any kind without a prescription from an ophthalmologist, optometrist or licensed optician.

Officials say the lenses are often sold in Halloween or novelty shops, salons, beauty supply stores, or online, never requiring a prescription.

While many of them sell for as little as $20, the vendors are not authorized distributors, officials say.

The effort to seize the lenses involves 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).

"Even though Halloween approaches, consumers shouldn't let a good deal or great costume blind them to the dangers of counterfeit decorative contact lenses," said HSI Executive Associate Director James Dinkins in a statement. "What's truly scary is the damage these counterfeit lenses can do to your eyes for a lifetime."

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