Licensed Optometrists

Important Information for Consumers About Decorative Contact Lenses

All contact lenses, including the decorative ones, are medical devices.


Photo courtesy of Department of Homeland Security

All contact lenses, even decorative lenses, are medical devices, and in the State of Hawaii require a prescription and proper fitting by a licensed eye-care professional.  Because all contact lenses sit directly on the cornea and limit the amount of oxygen reaching the eye, all contact lenses pose some risk for consumers.  Moreover, because the size and shape of your eye is unique, contact lenses are not “one size fits all” products and improperly fitting contact lenses can cause scratches, infections, and in some cases, even blindness.

Many decorative lenses are sold with false or misleading labels.

Decorative lenses are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and many of the lenses found online or in beauty salons, novelty shops or in seasonal Halloween stores are not FDA approved.  Counterfeit labels may look legitimate, but if the lens is not being sold by a licensed eye care professional, there’s no guarantee that the lens is what it’s advertised to be.

GOA - contact lens infectious keratitis

Contact lens infectious keratitis – photo courtesy of Dept. of Homeland Security

In Hawaii, only licensed eye care professionals are authorized to prescribe contact lenses.

The sale of contact lenses to consumers without a valid prescription is considered to be unlicensed activity and is subject to cease and desist orders and civil fines ranging from $500 to $3,500 per occurrence.

Decorative contact lenses can be ordered from an office that conducts eye exams and contact lens fittings.


Helpful tips for consumers:

DO get an eye exam from a licensed ophthalmologist or optometrist

DO get a prescription that includes a brand name and lens measurements – remember, after you buy the lenses, it’s also important to have a licensed professional properly fit them

DO buy your lenses from a licensed dispensing optician who will require you to provide a valid prescription

NEVER buy contact lenses from convenience stores, kiosks, Halloween stores, beauty salons or swap meets

NEVER share your contact lenses with another person

Hawaii residents are encouraged to report people or businesses that are selling contact lenses without requiring a prescription and RICO relies on information from consumers to monitor conduct in the industry and to watch for unlicensed activity. For information about filing a complaint, click on the link below or call the RICO Consumer Resource Center to speak with an intake investigator about your complaint.