The Dangers of Halloween Contacts
- Posted on: Jan 14 2016
Wearing costume contact lenses with your Halloween costume can be a real scream on Trick-or-Treat night or at your next party. But the scare factor from non-prescription contact lenses is all too real. Millions of people will buy non-medical contact lenses this month and the chemical exposure from these lenses along with the poor fit on your eye can create potentially blinding infections.
Every Halloween, we see these costume contacts marketed as a fashion accessory. We’ve even seen signs that say you don’t need to see a medical professional for these contacts. As an ophthalmologist, this is incredibly concerning because these contacts are not medically safe or FDA-approved and can lead to very dangerous infections, permanent vision loss, even require corneal transplants.
Non-prescription costume contacts can cause cuts and open sores in the protective layer of the iris and pupil and this can lead to painful bacterial infections that can cause patients to go blind. One recent study found that wearing costume contact lenses increased the risk of developing keratitis—a blinding infection that causes an ulcer in the eye—by more than 16 times compared to people who wear FDA-approved, medical contact lenses. 60% of patients who contracted keratitis while wearing costume contact lenses suffered permanent vision loss. Another study recently found chlorine and other dangerous chemicals inside the packaging, adding to the concern for eye care specialists like me.
The bottom line: when you buy scary contacts from a costume store or online, you don’t know what you’re getting. These contacts aren’t fitted for your eye so they can scratch your eye easily. That’s why I recommend only buying contact lenses from retailers who require a prescription and sell FDA-approved products. If you do wear costume contacts and experience redness, swelling, excessive discharge, pain or discomfort, call us immediately.
Your eyes are precious. Don’t put yourself in danger just to make your devil or vampire costume look a little bit cooler. That extra scare factor is absolutely not worth the risk.
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