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Pennsylvanians Warned of Health Risks from Decorative Contact Lenses that are Popular during Halloween Season


Harrisburg, PA – The secretaries of the Pennsylvania departments of Health and State and the attorney general today warned residents that unfitted, decorative contact lenses often sold during the Halloween season are dangerous, and it is illegal for retailers to sell them.


“You are at great risk for a serious injury if you use unfitted contact lenses that have not been prescribed to you by your doctor,” said Secretary of Health Dr. Karen Murphy. “Risks of using an unfitted lens include blindness, infections, allergic reactions or even the loss of an eye.”


Many decorative lenses lack proper instruction for use. Parents should first consult a physician or optometrist if a child wants to wear them.


“Under federal law, even decorative or cosmetic contact lenses are considered medical devices which can only be legally marketed as prescription devices,” said Secretary of State Pedro A. Cortés, whose department licenses physicians and optometrists in the commonwealth. “Pennsylvania law also requires a prescription from a licensed physician or optometrist for fitting any contact lens. As one of the departments charged with protecting public safety, we urge people to safeguard their vision by using only contact lenses prescribed for them by a licensed practitioner.”


Attorney General Bruce R. Beemer reminded commonwealth residents that the Office of Attorney General maintains a Health Care Section that is tasked with protecting the public from unfair or deceptive healthcare business practices.


"We strongly encourage anyone who has found retailers selling these lenses without a prescription to contact our office," Attorney General Beemer said. "We will take the appropriate action to ensure the lenses are being sold in a lawful manner." 


Agents with the Health Care Section previously conducted an investigation that involved undercover purchases from retailers selling unauthorized cosmetic contact lenses. The investigation resulted in warning letters being sent to certain retailers.


To report improper use or sale of decorative contact lenses, call:

·        U.S. Food and Drug Administration at 1-800-FDA-1088, if you know contact lenses are being dispensed without a prescription

·        The Pennsylvania Department of State at 717-783-1379, if unlicensed businesses are prescribing or distributing contact lenses  

·        The Pennsylvania Department of Health at 1-800-822-2113 or the Office of Attorney General’s Health Care Section at 877-888-4877, if businesses other than practitioners are distributing contact lenses without a prescription. Those interested in filing a complaint may also do so by visiting


Instructions for how to properly obtain decorative contact lenses, as well as information about the severe damage that can result from wearing them, can be found on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's website.


For more information on how to stay safe and healthy this Halloween season, visit or


MEDIA CONTACTS:  April Hutcheson, DOH, 717-787-1783

                                Wanda Murren, DOS, 717-783-1621

                                Jeffrey Johnson, OAG, 717-787-5211

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