Halloween will be here before you know it! I thought this would be a good time to discuss the dangers of costume/decorative contact lenses that people may consider to spice up their Halloween costumes! What is the risk with these costume lenses? It’s just one day, what’s the worst that can happen? The answer is excruciating pain and permanent vision loss - It’s not worth it folks!
These type of cosmetic contact lenses change the way your eyes look and can be made with or without vision correction. It is illegal in the United States for any contact lens to be purchased without a current prescription. Those lenses are not FDA regulated and you just can’t be sure of what you’re receiving.
According to the AAO, there are about 13,500 emergency room cases due to contact lens injuries annually. That is alarming and mostly avoidable with a little education!
So what exactly can these costume contacts do? They can cut, scratch, cause an allergic reaction, or cause infection from their poor fit on your cornea, uncleanliness, or by the materials they are made of. Even if those corneal ulcers or abrasions heal with various medications, they can leave behind extensive and irreversible scarring that will impair your vision. These lenses are also less breathable due to all the paints/pigments or materials utilized. This limits oxygen and nutrients to important structures within your eye, which will lead to further complications.
Treating these injuries may require surgical intervention like a corneal transplant which are not always a success. They are expensive surgeries and may require a person to be on eye drops for the rest of their lives.
Contacts are NOT a “one size fits all”, they are medical devices that need to be properly fit by your eye care provider. Even certain costume contact lenses can be worn safely if you see your doctor beforehand and adhere to their advice.
Be safe and have a spooktacular Halloween!!!
- Dr. Brewer