Seeing through the eyes of sci-fi characters may be risky

Medill News ServiceJuly 16, 2014 

Colored contact lenses have been around for quite some time, but with increasing interest in anime, vampires, werewolves and zombies, colored lenses are becoming more popular. Decorative lenses can now be purchased online without a doctors' approval or prescription. The FDA and health professionals are concerned. The FDA is teaming up with American Horror Story (a television show on FX) to create a campaign to teach parents and their teens about the risks associated with buying decorative lenses for usage in cosplay -- or costume play -- especially without an eye doctor signing off on it first. The Medill News Service is a Washington program of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Elle Calderone, a graduate student from Moorestown, NJ, covers health and science.

LAURA LYNDA

— Rolling your eyes can be like rolling the dice.

“I have seen decorative eyes before. I’ve actually seen ones that look like dice in the eyes. Actual rolling dice,” said Chris Wanamaker, president of the D.C. Anime Club in Washington.

When you purchase decorative contact lenses, you could be rolling the dice on your health too, some experts say.

The American Optometric Association reported 17 percent of Americans have tried wearing contact lenses for cosmetic purposes in 2013. Of that 17 percent, 24 percent did not consult an eye doctor or get a prescription before purchasing their decorative lenses.

Now, the Optometric Association, the FDA and the Entertainment Industry Council are teaming up with the FX series American Horror Story to educate people on the risks of these lenses.

“Putting a piece of plastic on your eye can pose a risk,” said Dr. Rachel Bishop, chief of the consult services section at the National Eye Institute, which is part of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md.

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