COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVN) -- Cosmetic contact lenses are popular this time of year, but they can also be dangerous.
Ohio law bans unlicensed retailers from selling the products, but it's not illegal to buy them.
"These are the contact lenses that will change the color or appearance of the eye. They have no corrective power," said Nancy Manns with the Ohio Optical Dispensers Board.
Last year there were 15 cease and desist orders to businesses based on consumer complaints. That's up from 12 in 2010. Tattoo parlors, gas stations, costume shops, and gift stores are popular spots to find the products.
Manns says contact lenses are only allowed to be sold by a license optometrist, optomologist, or contact lense distributer.
"The most important thing is to tell businesses you can't sell them," she said.
Eye pain, bacterial infections, and corneal ulcers are caused by ill-fitting lenses. One study found that wearing decorative lenses increased the risk for developing keratitis, a potentially blinding infection that causes an ulcer in the eye. This increased risk was more than 16 times more likely than those seen in vision correcting lenses.
"I’ve seen many young patients who were not aware of the dangers of these products and are now living with permanent vision loss,” said Thomas L. Steinemann, MD, Professor of Ophthalmology at Case Western Reserve University/MetroHealth Medical Center and a Prevent Blindness Ohio volunteer. “Parents should be on the alert to protect their children’s vision by assuring that their contact lenses are worn only under the supervision of an eye doctor.”
(Photo courtesy Getty Images)