Are designer contact lenses safe for the eyes?

Use of non-prescribed contact lenses by people that were not examined properly is dangerous to the eyes.

September 4, 2014 13:56
3 minute read.
A purim reveler in Holon

A purim reveler in Holon poses for the camera, showing off his decorative contact lenses, during a parade in the city in 2011.. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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After a visit to the US, my 18-year-old daughter returned wearing non-prescription contact lens that turned her brown eyes into blue ones. I could hardly recognize her. It seems that there, one can buy “decorative contacts” without consulting an ophthalmologist.

My daughter told me she saw some with kaleidescopes and other patterns being worn. Disgusting! She bought a few packages of blue-pupil ones, but I told her I thought they were dangerous to use. Am I right?
D.V., Ness Ziona

Dr. David Verssano, director of the cornea clinic at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, replies:
Use of non-prescribed contact lenses by people that were not examined properly is dangerous to the eyes. They can scratch the corneas and cause permanent vision loss.

In Israel, ophthalmologists and optometrists are licensed to prescribe contact lenses. An eye examination is vital to minimize the risks of wearing decorative contact lenses, and proper patient education on the way to handle the contacts is a must before starting to use them.

Judy Siegel-Itzkovich adds: A US survey two years ago found that up to 14 million Americans have tried non-prescription decorative contact lenses after buying them on the Internet or even in novelty stores or from street vendors.

The product is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

They are made in a uniform size and contain unknown types of dyes and paints. If they are not cleaned and sterilized properly, they can bring on infections and much worse.

I am a first-time mother, and I am trying to get used to the challenge of feeding my baby at seven months, breastfeeding plus giving solids. The baby is of normal weight but seems to be hungry all the time.

The tipat halav (well-baby) station nurse advised giving him porridge that is bought dry and to which boiled water, breast milk or formula is added. The package says to store in a dry, cool place – not in the refrigerator – and that once it’s open, it has to be thrown out within a month. Powdered formula also has to be trashed a month after opening. Gerber/Materna pureed baby foods should be thrown out within a day of their being opened (if one doesn’t take out a portion and save the untouched part for the baby).

I was wondering whether this supposed short shelf-life is due to commercial interests; the company must want you to buy more quickly. Is it dangerous to the baby’s health to keep an open package of dried cereal or cereal for more than a few weeks?
R.L., Jerusalem

Prof. Yona Amitai, a pediatrician and Bar-Ilan University toxicologist, formerly head of the Health Ministry’s department of infant, child and maternal health, comments
: Obviously, companies want to sell their products – as much as they can. But at the same time, open containers of baby products may not be kept in the optimal environment to protect them microbiologically. Some parents may not keep powders and purees at the right temperature. One should not keep the plastic measuring spoon in the formula container, as it may be wet and promote the growth of mold.

When you reconstitute baby formula and your infant doesn’t finish the bottle, put it in the refrigerator immediately for up to an hour or so and give him more. If the bottle sits outside for an hour or more, it can be infected, especially in warm temperatures because bacteria will multiply.

Rx for Readers welcomes queries from readers about medical problems. Experts will answer those we find most interesting.

Write Rx for Readers, The Jerusalem Post, POB 81, Jerusalem 91000, fax your question to Judy Siegel-Itzkovich at (02) 538-9527, or e-mail it to, giving your initials, age and place of residence.

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