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Homeland security warns of counterfeit contact lenses being sold in Borderland

Contact lenses
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A colorful contact lens is seen in an eye.

EL PASO, Texas -- Homeland Security investigators seized more than 300 counterfeit contact lenses right here in the Borderland that could pose a big risk to your health and your eyesight.

Investigators told ABC-7 that the internet has become a big source of counterfeit sales.

“A lot of times these products can  be flown in from, for example China into the United States and people can receive them directly,” said Jack Staton, the Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge of El Paso.

Homeland Security Investigations presented their seized goods Wednesday. With Halloween coming up there’s a lot of demand for counterfeit contact lenses that chance eye color or iris shape.

There’s one big way to make sure the contacts you buy are safe to wear.

“If individuals have purchased these and they were not asked for a prescription, that is illegal. The companies selling these can’t sell them without asking for a prescription,” Staton said.

Safe contacts will always require a doctor. Even if you have perfect vision you need to go to an eye doctor to make sure everything checks out.

“They need to be properly fitted contacts, making sure that they're properly fitting the surface of their eyes, also to prescribe the correct color contact lens that will allow the proper transmission of oxygen to their eyes,” said Dr. Roberto Fournier, a local optometrist.

Counterfeit contacts are mostly made of cheaper materials that can scratch your cornea and damage your vision, or the saline could carry bacteria that might infect your eye. If the contacts don’t let oxygen through parts of  your eye can start to die.

With Halloween just one week away, it’s too late to get good contacts now. It’s better to go without.

“What’s more important, you wearing that contact lens for one night and risking per manent loss of vision or just maintaining the health of your eyes by not wearing them?” Dr. Fournier said.

Dr. Fournier explained one of his patients had slept in contact lenses that had not been cleaned properly. The patient developed a bacterial ulcer, which ate away at his eye. His eyesight dropped from 10/20 to 20/200.

Dr. Fournier suggests for next year to plan your costume ahead and start making your appointments at the start of the month.

El Paso / News / Top Stories / Video

Julio-Cesar Chavez

Julio-Cesar Chavez is an ABC-7 reporter.