The American Optometric Assn. recently issued an alert to its members after getting reports that some junior and senior high school students, mostly in the Midwest, are tinting their contact lenses with food coloring.
The practice, which produces bright colors not generally available for contact lenses, can be dangerous and should be discouraged, association officials warn.
Some people could have serious allergic reactions to the coloring, and because dye is not sterile, the tinting could lead to eye infections. The deep colors of the lenses may also impair vision.
Janice Knepley, a registered nurse who works for the school system in Napoleon, Ohio, said she has counseled students who came in with bright red, royal blue, orange and yellow contacts, sometimes even having a different color in each eye.
So far, no students have reported any serious problems from the practice, she said, but local health and school officials have issued warnings to alert the youngsters and their parents.
Some students reported that they got the idea of dyeing their lenses from teen magazines, she said.