Are Halloween-Themed Contact Lenses Safe?
Colorful contact lenses definitely add a little extra flair to your costume if you're planning to be a zombie, vampire or other fictional creature for Halloween. Unfortunately, wearing over-the-counter lenses for just one evening could harm your eyes.
Novelty Contact Lenses May Increase Your Risk of Eye Injury and Infection
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates contact lens sales to ensure that the lenses are safe to wear. Many novelty lenses haven't received FDA approval and are brought into the country illegally. Those lenses may contain bacteria and other contaminants or may be poorly made.
This past June, a Florida woman was convicted of selling counterfeit contact lenses that contained microbial contamination. Law enforcement officials seized 600 lenses imported from China during an undercover operation in Pensacola.
Although the counterfeit lenses looked perfectly fine, anyone who wore them may have soon developed a terrible eye infection. In fact, infections can occur just hours after you wear contaminated lenses and may cause permanent vision changes or even vision loss if you don't receive prompt treatment.
Novelty lenses are often available in one size only. Unfortunately, everyone's eyes aren't the same size. Wearing lenses that don't fit your eyes properly can lead to scratches or sores on your cornea, the clear layer of tissue that covers your iris and pupil. If scars develop as a result of infections or sores, your vision may never be the same again.
Signs that may indicate an infection or eye injury include:
- Change in Vision or Double Vision
- Sensitivity to Light
- Burning or Itching
- Constant Tearing
- Foreign Body Sensation
Buying Prescription Lenses Offers a Safer Solution
The safest lenses are those approved by the FDA and prescribed by an optometrist. During your appointment, your eye doctor measures the curvature of your cornea and the size of your irises and pupil to determine the ideal lens size for you. It's important to visit an eye doctor whether you need contacts to see better or just want to wear the lenses as part of a Halloween costume.
Your optometrist or his staff will also teach you how to insert, remove and safely care for your lenses. Infections can occur if you don't follow proper care instructions, even if your lenses were prescribed by an optometrist.
9 Tips That Will Help Protect Your Eyes This Halloween
Keep these tips in mind if you're interested in changing the color or appearance of your eyes to compliment your Halloween costume:
- See an optometrist for an eye examination and contact lens fitting.
- Buy your lenses from a company that requires a prescription from an eye doctor.
- Don't wear costume lenses overnight.
- Wash your hands before handling your contact lenses.
- Follow your optometrist's cleaning and disinfecting instructions to prevent infections.
- Put your lenses in before you apply Halloween makeup. At the end of the night, take out your contacts before you remove your makeup.
- Remove the lenses if they're uncomfortable or irritate your eyes.
- Call your optometrist immediately if you notice any signs of an infection or inflammation.
- Don't share contact lenses with your friends, even if they're non-prescription. Sharing lenses can increase your risk of infection.
Would a pair of colorful contacts be the perfect finishing touch for your Halloween costume? Don't put your vision at risk by purchasing over-the-counter novelty contact lenses. Contact us to schedule a contact lens examination with an optometrist.
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Florida: Pensacola Woman Pleads Guilty to Selling Counterfeit Contact Lenses, 6/27/19
All About Vision: Halloween Contact Lenses and Other Special-Effect Contacts, 10/17/18
American Optometric Association: Halloween Hazard: Never Buy Decorative Contact Lenses Without a Prescription, 9/14/18
CDC: Keep Your Eyes Safe on Halloween
U.S. Food and Drug Administration: ‘Colored’ and Decorative Contact Lenses