WEDNESDAY, July 7 (HealthDay News) -- Cosmetic contact lenses that give wearers an exaggerated "doe-eyed" look are "an emerging and potentially dangerous trend among teenagers and young adults," the American Academy of Ophthalmology warned in a statement released Tuesday.
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The "circle" lens extends beyond the iris and, in doing so, makes the eye appear larger. Their use among the young increased recently after pop star Lady Gaga displayed the look in her "Bad Romance" music video, the New York Times reported.
"I've noticed a lot of girls in my town have started to wear them a lot," 16-year-old Melody Vue, from Morganton, N.C., told the Times. Vue said she owns 22 pairs and wears them regularly.
According to the AAO, over-the-counter sales of nonprescription cosmetic lenses has been banned by law in the United States since 2005, but they are available online. All contact lenses are classified as medical devices and can only be distributed through licensed eye care professionals.
In its statement, the AAO said it "would like to alert consumers to the hazards of buying any decorative lenses, including circle lenses, without a prescription. Any type of contact lens is a medical device that requires a prescription, proper fitting by an eye care professional and a commitment to proper care by the consumer."
The eye doctors' group also noted that "inflammation and pain can occur from improperly fitted, over-the-counter lenses and lead to more serious problems including corneal abrasions and blinding infections."
The AAO urged that all contact lenses be fitted by a trained professional, and that anyone who develops "pain, burning, redness, tearing or sensitivity to light while wearing any type of contact lenses," should consult an ophthalmologist.
-- E.J. Mundell
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SOURCES: July 6, 2010, statement, American Academy of Ophthalmology; New York Times