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CORPUS CHRISTI - Color contacts have been around for years, but even though they may be more common now, federal law still requires prescriptions for selling the lenses.
6 News uncovered a local convenience store selling contacts without a prescription, right along cigarettes and soda, which the Federal Trade Commission says is a violation.
They come in all kinds of colors and styles, but they are only supposed to be available with a prescription from a doctor.
We got a report of this Times Market on Prescott selling the lenses without prescriptions. So, we went undercover to check it out.
And it was easy. We walked inside, asked about the colored contacts and just 16 bucks later we came out with these "Ocean Blue" lenses.
The FTC says contacts can only be sold according to a prescription from a doctor. Even if they are only for cosmetic purposes and not for vision correction.
FTC representatives say the lenses still must be fitted properly to the eye. They also say the contacts require care instructions. We got no instruction at the Times Market-- only a "thanks and have a nice day".
Experts warn improper care and a bad fit can lead to eye infections and in extreme cases even blindness.
We returned to the store to talk to the man who sold me the contacts. He wasn't happy to see us, but he did explain that he thought he was complying with the law.
"If a person with the wrong size eye puts this on, it could hurt their vision. We're not trying to harass you. We're just trying to let you know it could be dangerous for their eyes," said Reporter Steven Romo.
We gave him a copy of the FTC rules for sellers which says they must get a copy of a current prescription or confirm the prescription with a doctor in order to sell contacts.
"I didn't have this. I am going to read it," said the owner.
Experts say the safest way to get color contacts is by going to an eye doctor first. Losing your sight in an effort to get dazzling eyes is a trade that doesn't look worthwhile.
We contacted the FTC to ask what would be done to a business selling contacts without a prescription. Agents told us the problem of improperly selling lenses is so pervasive they can't investigate every claim.
Instead they chart reports of illegal sales and only take action when a significant problem is found.
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