Decorative lenses not against the law


November 25, 2005|By MARY BETH REGAN

It used to be that people could pick up decorative contact lenses in patterns such as bloodshot or black spiral everywhere.

Not anymore. President Bush this month signed into law a measure that makes decorative lenses illegal without a doctor's prescription. The reason: Teens and young adults jumping on the wild-eye bandwagon were coming down with serious ailments ranging from conjunctivitis to corneal abrasions.

The lenses, usually with zero-corrective power, have been sold in venues ranging from T-shirt shops to tattoo centers, says Thomas L. Steinemann, a Cleveland ophthalmologist.

Steinemann spearheaded efforts for the law after performing a corneal transplant on a 14-year-old girl who developed an infection from the lenses. Now, all lenses - even the wild ones - will be regulated as medical devices, requiring a doctor's prescription.

Bottom Line: This law makes sense. It may seem like fun to match your eye color to your outfit, but it's hardly worth your sight.

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