MILWAUKEE — Cosmetic contact lenses have become a hot trend for Halloween, parties and even everyday use. With celebrity endorsements and YouTube fanatics flashing the eye-changing novelties, the niche-market product has turned into a multi-million dollar business. They’re sold at a kiosk inside Southridge Mall, even though the Food and Drug Administration says they can be dangerous!
17-year-old Alexis Quinones bought cosmetic contact lenses from a kiosk at Southridge Mall. When Quinones put the contacts into his eyes, he knew something was wrong.
“It burned a little, and my eye got red, like all around. It just did not feel good,” Quinones said.
Quinones mom rushed him to optometrist Dr. Eric Knight who found the lenses caused an eye infection.
“It’s warm, because putting on a contact lens is like putting on a sweater. It traps heat, so it’s warm. It’s moist. There’s like, a jillion dead cells there. That’s like a perfect culture medium for bacteria,” Dr. Knight said.
That bacteria can build up, causing possible permanent damage — not to mention without a prescription, the contact lens salesman doesn’t know the natural curve of the customer’s eye.
“If you have a lens that’s too flat or too steep, it can cause erosion on the front of the eye — bad problems,” Dr. Knight said.
Luckily for Quinones, his infection was cleared up with basic antibiotics.
The FDA has declared all contact lenses are medical devices, and that any seller must see a prescription from a customer before making a sale. The salesman then must give that customer the exact lens prescribed, whether they help a customer’s vision or are simply for cosmetic purposes.
However, the Southridge Mall vendor doesn’t see it that way.
“No prescription. They are cosmetic contacts. They’re all the same size. Basically, we’re not taking any responsibilities after we sell them. We advise they talk to the doctor before you use it,” a salesman told FOX6 Contact 6’s producer during a hidden camera investigation.
Contact 6 showed Dr. Knight, Quinones and his mother the hidden camera video.
“They should never have allowed this guy to get a kiosk,” Dr. Knight said.
Contact 6 reached out to the vendor by phone. He said an FDA officer came to the mall to talk with him about his violations. The vendor said he then closed his kiosk because he did not have the appropriate license.
Contact 6 sent Southridge Mall 12 questions regarding how this was allowed to occur inside the mall. Southridge Mall officials sent back a three-sentence response, simply saying Southridge Mall does not condone the selling of unlawful goods and confirming the kiosk is gone.
However, there was no response as to how the vendor was allowed to rent a kiosk at the mall in the first place.
Customers must have a prescription to wear any contact lenses, and any vendor selling them must ask to see the prescription and confirm the sale with a customer’s doctor before selling contact lenses. Anything less can put a customer’s vision at risk!