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Why you shouldn't wear those green contact lenses with your Halloween costume

Why you shouldn't wear those green contact lenses with your Halloween costume
The owners and operators of 10 Southern California businesses were charged Friday in federal court with illegally selling cosmetic contact lenses without prescriptions. (United States Attorney's Office Central District of California (Los Angeles))

Thinking about buying sea green contact lenses to complete your perfect Halloween costume?

Authorities and health professionals want you to know that without proper consultation, care and a prescription, those contacts can cause serious damage to your eyes.

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And on Friday, the U.S attorney's office in Los Angeles once again cracked down on businesses that they allege illegally sold "decorative" contact lenses without requiring a prescription.

Prosecutors filed documents in federal court Friday afternoon charging 10 Southern California vendors with misdemeanor offenses as a part of its "Operation Fright Night."

Some of the products -- marketed under names such as "Wonder Look" and "Red Rose" -- were found to be "contaminated with dangerous pathogens that can cause eye injury, blindness and loss of the eye," according to a Department of Justice statement.

"These products pose a serious danger to unsuspecting Halloween shoppers, and those who have already purchased these products should not use them," U.S. Atty. Eileen M. Decker said in the statement. "As required by the law, contact lenses should be used only when they are prescribed by a knowledgeable medical professional."

The defendants own stores throughout the region -- from Ventura to San Bernardino, Chino Hills to downtown L.A. Some of those charged own beauty supply stores, while others own shops inside mini-malls, prosecutors said.

Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles, said some of the stores sold the contact lenses year-round, though many of the products are marketed specifically around Halloween. In some cases, stores had hundreds of the products on display, he said.

"People are looking to come up with the ultimate costume -- to accessorize their outfit -- but they are really putting themselves in danger by using these products," Mrozek said.

At this point, Mrozek said prosecutors have targeted only retail establishments. But "we are continuing to investigate the supply chain," he said, "and I believe additional cases will be forthcoming in the coming weeks."

All charges filed as part of the operation carry a maximum penalty of one year in federal prison and fines of up to $100,000 for an individual and up to $200,000 for a corporation, the Department of Justice statement said.

Twitter: @ByMattStevens 

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