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Novelty contact lenses worry regulators at Halloween

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Capitol building in Springfield, Illinois.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) _ Illinois state regulators are warning trick-or-treaters about the dangers of colored contact lenses during the Halloween season.

Bryan Schneider is secretary of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. He says the novelty lenses that routinely flood malls and beauty supply stores are often made overseas in facilities that are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. They contain tinting materials that can damage eyes _ including blindness.

Schneider says the risk is minimized when lenses are fitted by one of the 2,300 optometrists licensed by the IDFPR.

Dr. Christine Allison is president of the Illinois Optometric Association. She says the risk of infection is the biggest worry. Some bacteria can cause permanent scarring within 20 hours if untreated.