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CompBenefits Advises Parents, Teens and Toddlers To Not Let a Night of Fright Impair Your Sight!


Atlanta, GA, October 16, 2006 – CompBenefits, a leader in vision and dental insurance, joins the American Optometric Association (AOA) and Prevent Blindness America (PBA) in recognizing October as Halloween Safety Month.

As parents, teens and toddlers prepare for Halloween trick-or-treat activities and parties, it is a good time to remind people of healthy precautions about protecting their eyes and maintaining their field of vision when considering their costumes.

A growing problem, especially among teens and young adults, is the use of cosmetic contact lenses, or "plano" lenses (lenses without a correction). These decorative or plano lenses come in a variety of colors and patterns such as sunburst, zebra stripes and scary cats' eyes that are popular at Halloween. The lenses, which have been popularized by rock stars such as Marilyn Manson, are available without prescription from body piercing parlors, fashion accessory shops or on the Internet.

However, parents need to know that since November 2005, these non-corrective lenses have been regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) because of the significant risks of vision impairment.

The FDA has issued numerous consumer alerts regarding such lenses, explaining that decorative contact lenses, unlike contact lenses intended for correcting vision, "present significant risks of blindness and other eye injury if they are distributed without a prescription or without proper fitting by a qualified eye care professional."

According to Dr. Howard Braverman of CompBenefits and past president of the American Optometric Association, "Unauthorized or over-the-counter lenses are available on the Internet, but parents may not realize that improperly fitted contact lenses can lead to serious eye problems. These injuries include decreased oxygen flow to the cornea, bacterial infections, conjunctivitis (pink eye), swelling, corneal abrasions and loss of clarity, as well as others that can result in permanent eye damage and loss of sight. Moreover, cosmetic contact lenses should not be shared with others because certain infections may lead to blindness."

Dr. Braverman strongly advises parents to visit a licensed eye care professional for proper fitting of cosmetic contact lenses and to never buy contact lenses without a prescription.

Other Halloween costumers and props can be frightening to your sight, too, according to Braverman. "Although 'Pirates of the Caribbean' and 'Harry Potter' have been blockbusters," says Dr. Braverman, "we urge parents to avoid costumes with masks, floppy hats, wigs or eye patches that block a child's field of vision. Pointed props, such as spears, swords or wands can not only harm your child's eyes but those of others."

Among alternatives, Braverman suggests using hypoallergenic make-up in place of masks, for example. For additional articles on proper eye health, including such topics as: "Vision and Nutrition" and "Vision in Children," visit CompBenefits' website at www.compbenefitsdirect.com.

About CompBenefits
CompBenefits is the vision and dental benefits carrier for nearly 5 million members in 31 states. The Company's VisionCare Plan is one of the largest eye care networks in the U.S. and fills the coverage gap left by many health insurance plans that exclude eye exams and corrective lenses and frames.

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