As Halloween approaches and costume planning gets more serious, many consider the use of novelty or costume contact lenses as a way to add that extra flair. Whether you are dressing up as a cat, a vampire, or looking for something fun that glows in the dark, dressing up your eyes can certainly add the finishing touch to your outfit. However, most people are unaware that costume contact lenses can pose a serious danger to your sight. If used improperly and bought without a medical prescription from an eye care professional, costume contact lenses can cause serious infection, corneal abrasions and in some cases lead to permanent vision loss.
As contact lenses are considered a medical device they need to be prescribed and fitted by a licensed eye care professional, according to the FDA and Health Canada. Most of the lenses sold in novelty and retail stores are not approved by the FDA or Health Canada. This is because the material they are made from can scratch your cornea, distort your vision or cause an infection. In fact it is illegal for retailers to sell any kind of contact lenses without a prescription. That’s why contact lenses for costumes are often purchased at discounted rates online, where regulations are negligible.
Here are a few tips to take into consideration if you decide to use costume contact lenses on Halloween or at any other time during the year.
1. Visit your eye doctor for a thorough eye exam. Your doctor will also measure your eyes for the correct contact lens fit and explain the correct way to use and care for your lenses. This rule applies even if you have perfect vision.
2. Purchase costume contacts only from a retailer that requests a prescription and sells FDA approved colored lenses.
3. Be sure to follow the instructions for contact lens usage, care and cleaning.
4. If you experience redness, swelling or discharge, remove your lenses and seek medical attention from your eye doctor.
5. Do not share your contact lenses with anyone else.
6. Schedule a follow up eye exam with your eye care professional.
Don't let an impulsive buy from a costume store ruin your vision.
For more information, watch the FDA's video on improper use of decorative lenses below:
Dr. David Hite