Colored lenses are popular among high school and college students and are often purchased at malls and flea markets without proper examinations and fittings.

CHICAGO – The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) is reminding Illinois contact lens purchasers that buying colored contact lenses for a Halloween costume or fashion statement from anyone other than a licensed eye care professional is dangerous. Colored lenses are popular among high school and college students and are often purchased at malls and flea markets without proper examinations and fittings. This puts thousands of Illinois customers at risk of scratches, infections and potential blindness. “Young people and their parents need to be aware that a prescription and proper fitting by a licensed professional is mandatory, even for colored, cosmetic contact lenses. Good vision and eye health is too important to risk for the sake of eye color,” said Manuel Flores, Acting Secretary of Financial and Professional Regulation. In recent years, IDFPR has ordered beauty supply stores and flea market vendors to immediately stop selling cosmetic, colored contact lenses without a prescription. It has fined them up to $10,000 for selling lenses without the proper health care license. All other sales of contact lenses to consumers are considered the unlicensed practice of optometry. “Stopping unlicensed practice is always a challenge,but by educating consumers and imposing the maximum allowable fine for every violation, we hope to gain the attention of retailers who are breaking the law but find the profits hard to give up,” said Flores. “We will continue to invest resources into cutting off the supply of cosmetic contact lenses and hope for a reduction in the number of infections as a result.”