Woman blinded after using flea market contact lenses

LUBBOCK, Texas (KLBK) — A Texas woman, Liza Garcia, filed a lawsuit in Lubbock County Feb. 10, claiming that she is now legally blind after wearing cosmetic contacts she purchased from a Lubbock flea market booth.

The lawsuit explains that on Feb. 9, 2016, Ms. Garcia went to the National Flea Market of Lubbock to purchase cosmetic contact lenses from the One Stop Contact Lenses booth. She had bought their contact lenses before.

The contact lenses she purchased were not for vision correction, but for cosmetic purposes. The actual lenses, Bella brand cosmetic contacts, make the wearer’s eyes to appear to be a different color.

The lawsuit states that after three days of wearing the contacts, Garcia’s eyes began burning and becoming swollen. She went to the Covenant ER, but even with medical care her eyes continued to deteriorate.

She went to UMC’s ER later where she was diagnosed with a bacterial infection in her eyes caused by the Bella contact lens. She continued to return to the hospital for daily checkups, but the infection had permanently damaged both of her eyes, leaving them with ulcers and scar tissue. The lawsuit states that she is now legally blind, which has changed how she lives her life.

“She lost her eyesight, she lost her job, obviously she’s not someone who has grown up with this disability, so she is not ready for it,” explained her attorney Rion Sanford of the Mckleskey Firm. “She’s going to have to go through a lot of rehab, she may be helped through a lot of corneal transplants but we’re not sure.”

Sanford said Wednesday that Garcia now needs help doing daily activities, so she and her three children had to move in with her sister.

Sanford explained that in researching this case, he learned that what happened to Ms. Garcia reflects a larger issue: while many assume these contacts are a fashion statement, many consumers are unaware that they can significantly impact the health of your eyes.

“Eventually we were able to determine that Ms. Garcia was injured by a product being sold illegally,  we also believe the product was defective even beyond just being illegally sold,” Sanford said.  At that point we became real concerned and also Ms. Garcia is permanently blinded by the infection she received when she began using these contact lenses, it looked like a case that needs to be addressed.”

The Food and Drug Administration says you need a prescription to wear these decorative lenses.  The FDA has many warnings about cosmetic contacts on their website, one statement found there reads:

But you need a prescription to avoid eye injury. Before buying decorative lenses, here’s what you should know.

They are not cosmetics or over-the-counter merchandise. They are medical devices regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Places that advertise them as cosmetics or sell them over-the-counter, without a prescription, are breaking the law.

They are not “one size fits all.” An eye doctor (ophthalmologist or optometrist) must measure each eye to properly fit the lenses and evaluate how your eye responds to contact lens wear.

The fact that Ms. Garcia could purchase these contacts at a flea market, without a prescription is concerning to Sanford.

For the full story go to EverythingLubbock.com.

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