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Feds Warn 7 Retailers That Contact Lens Sales Require Prescription

Violations of FTC’s Contact Lens Rule can trigger large fines.

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The Federal Trade Commission announced that it has sent letters to seven domestic brick-and-mortar retailers warning them that it is illegal to sell contact lenses — even cosmetic contacts — to consumers without a prescription.

The agency did not identify the retailers. The letters were sent before Halloween, a time when some consumers consider temporarily changing their eye color or the look of their eyes to match their costumes, according to an FTC press release.

The letters state that valid and verified prescriptions help ensure that consumers have been examined for overall eye health and proper fitting by a licensed eyecare professional. They note that without the guidance and supervision of a licensed eye care professional, consumers may develop serious injuries or complications from using cosmetic lenses, including:

  • Pain and eye discomfort.
  • Red or swollen eyes.
  • Blurred or decreased vision.
  • Corneal abrasion.
  • Allergic reactions.
  • Infection
  • Blindness.

The FTC noted that violations of the FTC’s Contact Lens Rule may result in legal action, including civil penalties of up to $42,530 per violation. The letters urge the recipients to review the rule and revise their practices as necessary to ensure they are in compliance.

The letters also requested that recipients contact the FTC immediately to explain how they plan to address the reported violations.

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