With Halloween just around the corner, children and adults alike are searching for the perfect costume. Cosmetic or colored contact lenses are one of the most popular accessories to make a costume stand out. After all, they can change the look of your eyes to match a vampire, cat, movie star, and more. Unfortunately, wearing over-the-counter cosmetic contact lenses can lead to infections, eye damage, and even blindness.
Many individuals are unaware of the risks that cosmetic contact lenses can pose for the eyes. Understanding these dangers and how to use prescription lenses correctly can help protect your sight. Your team at Florida Eye Specialists is always here to help and answer any questions you may have.
Are Halloween Contact Lenses Safe?
Just like vision-correcting contact lenses, cosmetic or colored contacts are medical devices that must be prescribed by your eye doctor. Contacts are never one-size-fits-all. Any type of lens requires a contact lens prescription with precise measurements meant for your eyes only.
According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), cosmetic contacts prescribed by your eye doctor are safe to wear if you follow proper contact hygiene practices. However, when you shop for lenses from online retailers or costume stores without a prescription, your eyes are at risk.
Most over-the-counter cosmetic contact lenses found in costume stores or Halloween retailers are not FDA-approved and are not being sold legally. Not only could they be the wrong fit for your eye, but they could also be unclean or packaged incorrectly. Jeepers creepers, imagine putting a dirty lens in your eye!
Eyeball Damage From Cosmetic Contact Lenses
Over-the-counter cosmetic contact lenses purchased from costume stores, online retailers, beauty supply, and drug stores can cause a whole host of problems for your eye. These lenses can cause scratches on your eye, severe irritation, corneal ulcers, or corneal abrasions. A corneal abrasion occurs when the clear protective dome at the front of the eye becomes damaged. In severe cases, corneal transplants are needed to restore vision and reverse the damage of these conditions.
You may also have an allergic reaction to costume lenses, like watery, itchy, or dry eyes. In the long run, costume contacts can result in a greater risk for conditions like glaucoma or cataracts. Eye damage from costume lenses can even result in impaired vision or permanent vision loss.
Eye Infection Risks From Cosmetic Halloween Contacts
Eye infections are the most common injury caused by over-the-counter cosmetic contact lenses. Infections occur when lenses are unsterile, introduce particles into the eye, or even when minor scratches from oversized lenses are left untreated. It is essential to know the signs of infection and see your eye doctor (either a licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist) immediately if they occur.
Signs of eye infection
- Eye pain that doesn’t go away
- Trouble seeing or decreased vision
- Eye redness
- Sensitivity to light
- Discharge from the eye (may be yellow, green, bloody, or watery)
Tips for Buying and Wearing Contact Lenses
Ditch the drugstore Halloween contacts and get FDA-approved prescription cosmetic contact lenses this year. Remember, prescription contact lenses will be safe, sterile, and correctly fit your eye. Simply schedule an eye exam, and your eye doctor will prescribe the right contact lenses for you.
When wearing your prescribed contact lenses, follow your ophthalmologist’s care instructions closely. Following contact lens hygiene, like cleaning and disinfecting your lenses daily, is extremely important to avoid serious complications and infections. Take proper care and always wash your hands before touching your eyes.
Again, if you experience symptoms like redness, itchiness, pain, or discharge, remove your lenses and visit an eye doctor immediately. These are signs of infection and can result in permanent damage if left untreated.
Schedule an Appointment With Florida Eye Specialists
Over-the-counter cosmetic contact lenses may seem like a fun addition to your Halloween costume, but they aren’t worth the risk of damaging your eyes. The only contact lens that should enter your eye is a prescribed contact lens from a professional eye doctor. Keep your eyes safe this fall, and schedule an appointment for an eye exam with the team at Florida Eye Specialists today.