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Warning against cosmetic contact lenses

26 Oct 2015

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People choosing to wear cosmetic contact lenses this Halloween, after they were made popular by TV programmes such as Vampire Diaries and Twilight, are putting their sight at risk, experts warn.

Cosmetic lenses are readily available online and often in novelty shops and market stalls but the law states they must be dispensed in the presence of an optician or medical practitioner.

The General Optical Council warns that wearers are putting their health at risk in TS Today, the magazine of the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, published next week.

Alistair Bridge, Director of Strategy at the General Optical Council said: "Cosmetic contact lenses should not be supplied by anyone other than an optician or doctor. Opticians make sure that contact lenses fit properly and that wearers receive expert advice on how to wear and store them safely.

“They will also offer important advice such as not to sleep in contact lenses and to never share or swap lenses, which can spread eye disease."

Otherwise known as plano or zero-powered lenses, cosmetic lenses are used to change the colour of the eye and were made popular in fashion and films but experts are concerned about the growing trend.

Young people are known to share them leading to an increased risk of serious problems occurring including, corneal ulcers and infections, that can lead to vision impairment.

The warning comes ahead of Halloween, next week, with some young people using the lenses as a way to enhance their outfits.

Leon Livermore, Chartered Trading Standards Institute chief executive, said young people should avoid using these lenses and parents should be wise to the risks.

He said: "Cosmetic contact lenses are often made and distributed on a 'one size fits all' basis and not tailored to the wearer's needs which can increase the risk of eye health issues.

"To minimise these risks it is essential that cosmetic lenses are fitted by a qualified professional who is able to provide advice on their safe use and ongoing care.

"We would advise against buying products like these online or from retailers as without professional supervision there are more likely to be health concerns for the individual."

Outlets found to be selling the lenses are instructed to remove the items from sale or face being referred to the General Optical Council, who have the power to take possible further enforcement action.

If you’re aware of cosmetic contact lenses being sold illegally, contact the General Optical Council’s legal compliance department at lc@optical.org or by calling 020 7307 3931. More information about the General Optical Council can be found online at www.optical.org

The November issue of TS Today is available next week at http://www.tradingstandards.uk/policy/tstoday.cfm

ENDS

For media enquiries please contact:

Amarinder Cooner
Communications Officer
General Optical Council
t: 020 7307 3473
e: acooner@optical.org

About the General Optical Council:

The GOC is the regulator for the optical professions in the UK. Its purpose is to protect the public by promoting high standards of education, performance and conduct amongst opticians. The Council currently registers around 28,500 optometrists, dispensing opticians, student opticians and optical businesses.

About the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI):
CTSI is a training and membership group that has represented the interests of the Trading Standards profession since 1881 nationally and internationally.  We aim to raise the profile of the profession while working towards fairer, better informed and safer consumer and business communities.

CTSI’s members are engaged in delivering frontline trading standards services in local authorities and in businesses. www.tradingstandards.uk

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