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Halloween warning about cosmetic contact lenses

21 October 2016

Islanders have been warned not to risk permanent damage to their eyes by using cosmetic contact lenses from unregulated outlets.

Trading Standards and Public Health have issued the warning in the build-up to Halloween, when some people may consider wearing novelty coloured lenses as part of their fancy dress.

Director of Trading Standards Alison de Bourcier said people should avoid using these lenses and urged parents to be wise to the risks.

She said "Cosmetic contact lenses are often made and distributed on a 'one size fits all' basis and not tailored to the wearer's needs, which can increase the risk of eye health issues.

"To minimise these risks it is essential that cosmetic lenses are fitted by a qualified professional who is able to provide advice on their safe use and ongoing care.

"We would advise against buying products like these online or from retailers as without professional supervision, there are more likely to be health concerns for the individual."

Revised legislation

Ms de Bourcier said her department had spoken to retailers in St Helier warning them of the potential risks. Currently there are no regulatory requirements covering the sale of cosmetic lenses, but the Law Officers Department is currently drafting amendments to the Opticians (Registration) (Jersey) Law. Subject to States Assembly approval, the effect of the revised legislation would be to add these lenses to the list of optical appliances that can only be supplied by registered opticians or doctors, bringing Jersey in line with the UK.

Head of Professional and Care Regulation, Christine Blackwood said "Cosmetic contact lenses should not be supplied by anyone other than an optician or doctor. Opticians make sure that contact lenses fit properly and that wearers receive expert advice on how to wear and store them safely.

“They will also offer important advice such as not to sleep in contact lenses and to never share or swap lenses, which can spread eye disease.

“The reason we are proposing a change in the law is to ensure that Jersey consumers are automatically protected from avoidable harm in the future. In the meantime, especially as Halloween is so soon, our advice is – just as with normal corrective contact lenses – not to be tempted to buy or use cosmetic contact lenses from a novelty or fancy dress shop, a cosmetics shop, or from a market or street pop-up stall.”

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