WASHINGTON — Halloween is known for its share of tricks and treats, but you might be unknowingly participating in illegal activity.
Federal law enforcement authorities have issued a consumer warning against counterfeit decorative contact lenses popular at Halloween, cracking down and seizing the illegal items before they enter the country.
The products often are not FDA approved and can cause significant damage to the eyes, including temporary blindness and infections.
“You never want to put these devices onto your eyes," said assistant director of homeland security investigations Bruce Foucart. "You never want to put skin creams onto your body if you don’t know where they are coming from."
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the FDA, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection teamed up to carry out Operation Double Vision.
The mission was to seize as many counterfeit contact lenses as possible.
Since the group’s inception in 2012, they have confiscated about 100,000 pairs of unapproved contact lenses, but the numbers are not slowing down.
“We’ve seen more seizures, unfortunately," Foucart said.
The availability of the lenses on the internet has made them especially easy to order.
“And as a result, it keeps us busy,” he said.
During the months leading up to Halloween, authorities step up their efforts against counterfeit contacts.
“Counterfeiters will use every ruse possible to get you to buy that product,” Foucart said.
Without a prescription and FDA approval on the product, consumers are purchasing counterfeit products and putting themselves at risk, even if the retailer says medical authorization is not required.
© 2021 Cox Media Group