Dangers of novelty contact lenses highlighted

Can cause lasting damage to the eyes
  • Deborah Condon

With Halloween just days away, retailers nationwide are being warned not to stock novelty contact lenses, as these can pose serious health risks.

Currently in Ireland, it is an offence to sell contact lenses unless a doctor, registered optometrist or registered dispensing optician conducts the sale. This legislation is enforced by CORU, the Health and Social Care Regulator.

"Cosmetic or coloured contact lenses are often advertised as a fun product to wear but in reality they are extremely dangerous. Contact lenses are medical devices and should only be worn after thorough examination carried out by a doctor, CORU registered optometrist or dispensing optician.

"These novelty products can be ill-fitting products and the wearer is not provided with the necessary professional advice on wearing contact lenses correctly. The risks are severe and can cause lasting damage to a person's eye," explained CORU CEO, Ginny Hanrahan.

Earlier this year, CORU secured the first conviction in Ireland for the mis-selling of cosmetic contact lenses, following an investigation by CORU's enforcement unit. Balloon Man Ltd with premises in Sandyford Industrial Estate in Dublin pleaded guilty to two separate offences in the Dublin District Court and was fined €400 for each offence.

CORU has said that in the run up to Halloween, its inspectors will be monitoring stores and online retailers who sell these products. It warned that any individual or business found to be mis-selling these products faces potential prosecution and fines of up to €500 on a first offence, and up to €2,500 on second or subsequent offences.

"We have already prosecuted for this offence this year and we will not hesitate to use our powers to ensure public safety now and in the future," Ms Hanrahan said.

Members of the public who see novelty lenses for sale are asked to contact CORU immediately. Email enforcement@coru.ie.


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