SoCal Businesses Charged With Illegally Selling Cosmetic Contact Lenses

Cosmetic contact lenses not regulated by FDA can contain pathogens, which lead to eye injury, loss or blindness

As trick-or-treaters prepare for Halloween, dangers of "fashion" cosmetic lenses come out of the shadows in an investigation called Operation "Fright Night,"  where 10 businesses in Southern California were charged Friday in federal court for illegally selling cosmetic contact lenses without prescriptions, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice.

"We tried to identify places that were high volume sellers and places that really had no business selling contact lenses," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Bettinelli.

The products that were allegedly illegally sold are under the names "Wonder Look," "Red Rose," "Black & White," "Beauty World" and "Crazy Eagle" and were marketed as Halloween and beauty accessories, officials said.

Some of these contact lenses, sold under the businesses being charged, were contaminated with pathogens that can cause eye injury, blindness and loss of the eye.

Poorly fitted lenses could also cause scratches to the cornea and conjunctivitis, the statement read.

"These products pose a serious danger to unsuspecting Halloween shoppers, and those who have already purchased these products should not use them," U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker said. "As required by the law, contact lenses should be used only when they are prescribed by a knowledgeable medical professional."

All contact lenses are subject to FDA regulations because users are at risk of injury, blindness and eye infection if they don't obtain a prescription from a medical professional who can provide guidance on proper care and maintenance of contact lenses.

"We want to educate the public and give them sufficient notice before Halloween to have public safety choices for their families," Bettinelli said.

Currently no one is in custody, Bettinelli said. Charges can result in up to a year in prison and a $200,000 fine.

"Buying decorative or 'fashion' contact lenses without a valid prescription puts consumers' health - and their vision - at risk," George M. Karavetsos, director of the FDA Office of Criminal Investigations, said in a statement.

Businesses being charged in Operation "Fright Night":

  • Arianna Beauty, Inc. in downtown Los Angeles
  • Zebra Accessories in San Bernardino
  • Fashion 20 in La Puente
  • Hollywood Toys & Costumes, Inc. in Hollywood
  • Yi's Accessories in the Central Mercado Mini Mall in La Puente
  • My Treasure in Buena Park
  • Hairitage Beauty Supply in San Bernardino
  • Fashion Dream in Garden Grove
  • Fashion Q in Baldwin Park
  • Zzotta Shoes in the Pacific View Mall in Ventura
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