“I couldn’t open my eyes and every time I tried it started hurting more,” says Barnes.
The 14 year old had only worn them for a day but that was enough to damage her cornea. Her doctor says even after her infection is cured, she will have a scar, and will likely need a corneal transplant.
Federal law says any contacts, even those for cosmetic purposes, can only be purchased with a valid prescription, but Erica says she picked hers up at beauty store for twenty bucks.
Doctors say they’ve had other teenage patients with the same issue as Erica.
“The population that is targeted here is a very vulnerable population of young teenage girls who will do a lot for cosmetic purposes, and it’s absolutely illegal,” says Dr. Anne Steiner.
“Anything to make 20 dollars! My child’s sight is worth more than 20 dollars,” says Barnes’ mother, Trina Swain.
Barnes’ parents have had to stop working to be at Barnes’ bedside. They want to share her story to protect other teenagers from the same fate.
“Keep in mind it doesn’t come with cleaning instructions, no solutions, you just buy it like you’re buying toothpaste, that’s just ridiculous,” says Swain.