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Happy Halloween? Not if decorative contacts hurt your eyes

designer contact lenses, FDA

(CBS) Decorative contacts might make for a terrific Halloween costume. But the FDA has issued a warning to consumers, saying that the contacts can cause potentially blinding eye problems.

PICTURES: Halloween: 10 dumb ways to end up in the ER

Case in point: Laura Butler, a woman who dropped $30 on a pair of blue lenses at a beach souvenir shop, which resulted in $2,000 in medical bills and almost cost her her eyesight. No instructions came with the lenses, and the store didn't sell solution, so she just popped them. Soon after, she felt excruciating pain - and it took her nearly 20 minutes to remove the lenses, which had stuck to her eyeballs like suction cups.

"The doctor said it was as if someone took sandpaper and sanded my cornea," she says. "He said he wasn't going to sugar-coat it, that I could lose my eyesight or could lose my eye."

She was treated for seven weeks and had dropping eyelid for five months, and to this day has decreased vision.

In addition to the trauma, decorative lens wearers also might get an infection from unsterile lenses that results in an ulcer on the cornea. Ill-fitting contact lenses might deprive the cornea of nutrients and oxygen, which would lead to "tight lens syndrome," which can be very uncomfortable, according to the National Eye Institute.

Think it's no big deal if you just wear them once and throw them away? Think again

"Bacterial infections can be extremely rapid, result in corneal ulcers, and cause blindness--sometimes within as little as 24 hours if not diagnosed and treated promptly," FDA optometrist Dr. Bernard Lepri, said in a written statement. "The problem isn't with the decorative contacts themselves," he added. "It's the way people use them improperly - without a valid prescription, without the involvement of a qualified eye care professional, or without appropriate follow-up care."

What's Butler's message for folks considering decorative contacts this Halloween?

Don't buy fashion lenses. If you do, she said "Take the time to go to the doctor, pay the extra money, and save yourself the agony."

The FDA has more on designer contact lenses.

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