published Thursday, January 10th, 2013

Ask a doctor: My daughter wants to buy colored contact lenses from a beauty supply shop. Are these safe?

By Dr. Paula Nicola

Q: My daughter wants to buy colored contact lenses from a beauty supply shop. She doesn't need contact lenses and has never had an eye exam. Are these safe?

A: Decorative contact lenses are popular with young adults. Unfortunately, wearing these lenses can increase the risk of developing a blinding eye infection such as a corneal ulcer by 16 times. Contact lenses are classified by the federal govern-ment as medical devices, and their distribution is restricted to licensed eye care profess-ionals. To safely wear decorative contact lenses, she needs an eye exam from an ophthalmologist or optometrist to obtain a valid prescription that includes the brand name, lens measurements and expiration date. Purchase contacts from a licensed eye care retailer who asks for a prescription, and follow the directions for cleaning, disinfecting and wearing the lenses. Never share the lenses with another person. If your daughter notices redness, swelling or excessive discharge, pain or discomfort, have her remove the lenses and seek immediate medical attention from her ophthalmologist.

— Dr. Paula Nicola, EyeCare Chattanooga, member, Chattanooga-

Hamilton County Medical Society

Readers: To submit a question for medical doctors, email it to Clint Cooper at See this space each week for answers.

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