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The Halloween Accessory That Could Send You to the Hospital

The Halloween Accessory That Could Send You to the Hospital

halloween contact lense_treatment© sdominick / iStock

By Ashley Mergen

Trick-or-treaters have another reason to be frightened about Halloween this year. No, it’s not the mini Miley Cyruses or candy-induced extra pounds. A new type of dangerous fake is creeping up online, threatening the health of Halloween consumers and drawing the attention of the feds.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are warning against counterfeit decorative contact lenses, popular with those looking to take their costumes to the next level of creepiness. Instead of just getting the temporary illusion of having crazy eyes, these unfortunate victims are putting tainted counterfeits into their eyes, causing more permanent damage and even blindness.

According to CBS Los Angeles, contact lenses are considered medical devices and whether decorative or not, always require valid prescriptions. Though these rogue online retailers and unauthorized dealers are selling these lenses without prescription (in the same vein as the burgeoning business of fake medicines), the heart of the matter lies in the fact that no prescription can overshadow the fact that these are dangerous fakes.

Counterfeits and the subsequent abuse of trusted trademarks to dupe consumers are mushrooming business models and emerging public health concerns. This most recent case of fake contact lenses just scratches the surface of the guile of criminals behind this most brazen of counterfeits. Just last week, three were arrested in Florida for selling fake and totally useless bulletproof vests and body armor. Over the months we’ve seen countless cases involving counterfeit airbags which fail to deploy or explode when people need them most.

These fakes are getting more sophisticated and they’re getting more dangerous. The work by government health and enforcement agencies in combating these threats to public health is important, even if it is unseen by most Americans. In 2012 alone, the Department of Homeland Security seized $195 million of counterfeit products that specifically jeopardized public safety and security, while further undercutting the legitimate brands and businesses that supply 40 million American jobs.

Consumers should treat themselves to more skepticism this Halloween, while enforcement agencies focus on counterfeiters’ tricks. Let’s make the only real scare come from viewing (a legally obtained copy of) The Exorcist.