Ocular complications associated with the use of cosmetic contact lenses from unlicensed vendors

Eye Contact Lens. 2003 Oct;29(4):196-200. doi: 10.1097/00140068-200310000-00002.


Purpose: To call attention to the unauthorized sale of cosmetic contact lenses, resulting in ocular complications. DESIGN Observational case report.

Methods: Retrospective, observational, clinical practice setting.

Results: Six patients (five female and one male) were seen urgently for acute eye pain and redness after wearing cosmetic plano contact lenses. None of the patients had previously worn a contact lens or spectacle correction. None of the lenses were dispensed by eye care professionals. One patient developed pseudomonal keratitis, ultimately requiring penetrating keratoplasty for visual rehabilitation.

Conclusions: Colored contact lenses are being dispensed without a prescription or fitting from unlicensed vendors, such as cosmetics, convenience, and accessory stores. Lenses are sold individually and without care instructions. Consequently, uninformed lens wearers are experiencing acute, vision-threatening infections and inflammation.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Conjunctivitis, Allergic / drug therapy
  • Conjunctivitis, Allergic / etiology*
  • Contact Lenses / adverse effects*
  • Cosmetics
  • Device Approval / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Drug Therapy, Combination / therapeutic use
  • Eye Infections, Bacterial / etiology*
  • Eye Infections, Bacterial / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iridocyclitis / drug therapy
  • Iridocyclitis / etiology*
  • Keratitis / microbiology*
  • Keratitis / surgery
  • Keratoplasty, Penetrating
  • Male
  • Pseudomonas Infections / etiology*
  • Pseudomonas Infections / surgery
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Cosmetics