Department of Health Reminds Pennsylvanians of Health Risks Associated with Decorative Contact Lenses

Department of Health Reminds Pennsylvanians of Health Risks Associated with Decorative Contact Lenses

Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Health is warning residents that decorative or cosmetic contact lenses often sold during the Halloween season are dangerous, and it is illegal for retailers to sell them.

“Decorative contact lenses, whether they correct vision or not, require a prescription and should be properly fitted by an eye doctor,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Decorative contact lenses sold without a prescription can cause serious health issues, like blindness, infections or allergic reactions, and can even result in the loss of an eye. It is essential that all residents take the necessary steps to keep their eyes healthy and talk with their doctor if they experience any issues with their vision.”

Under federal and state law, contact lenses and prescription eyeglasses are medical devices that require a prescription from a licensed physician or optometrist.

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“Pennsylvania law also requires a prescription for fitting any contact lens,” said Acting Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, whose department licenses physicians and optometrists in the commonwealth. “As one of the departments charged with protecting public safety, we urge people to safeguard their vision by using only contact lenses prescribed for them by a licensed practitioner.”

Sec. Boockvar also urged citizens not to purchase from retailers who offer contact lenses without a prescription. Sec. Boockvar noted that “only appropriately licensed practitioners may perform eye examinations and provide vision care.” Retailers who offer contact lenses or prescription eyeglasses without a valid prescription are in violation of federal and state law and should be avoided.

To report improper use or sale of decorative contact lenses, call:

  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration at 1-800-FDA-1088, if you know contact lenses or prescription eyeglasses are being dispensed without a valid prescription.
  • The Pennsylvania Department of State at 717-783-1379, if unlicensed businesses are prescribing or distributing contact lenses or prescription eyeglasses.
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Instructions for how to properly obtain decorative contact lenses, as well as information about the severe damage that can result from wearing them, can be found on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s website.

For more information on how to stay safe and healthy this Halloween season, visit or

Source: Pennsylvania Department of Health

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