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Loyola Optometrist Warns not to Wear Tinted Contact Lenses for Halloween without a Prescription

MAYWOOD, Ill. – Decorative tinted contact lenses will be popular accessories this Halloween, but a Loyola University Medical Center optometrist is warning that improper use could cause severe eye damage.

"Contact lenses should never be worn without a prescription from a licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist," said Peter Russo, OD, director of the Contact Lens Program at Loyola University Medical Center. “In fact, it is against the law to sell decorative contact lenses without a prescription."

Non-prescription Halloween contacts come in such colors as white zombie, red vampire and "sexy sapphire." They are sold illegally in beauty shops, costume stores and over the Internet.

Many buyers are teenagers and young adults. When purchased without a prescription, these lenses may not be fitted properly, and buyers usually do not receive proper instruction on how to care for and wear contacts. Users might, for example, use the wrong solution, share with a friend, wear improperly, fail to disinfect or use tap water rather than contact lens solution, Russo said.

Improper use can cause inflammation and infections, making eyes red and painful. Even when these complications are treated, there's still a risk that scar tissue could permanently impair vision and require a corneal transplant, Russo said.

"Even when worn for a relatively short period of time, such as during a Halloween party, decorative contact lenses can damage eyes if not used properly," Russo said. "They may seem like a lot of fun, but they're not worth the risk. Never wear a contact lens, whether for vision correction or for decoration, without a prescription."

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. The medical center campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of the Chicago Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. The heart of the medical center campus is a 559-licensed-bed hospital that houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children's Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as the LUC Stritch School of Medicine, the LUC Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 255-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

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Jim Ritter
Media Relations
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