Decorative lenses, sometimes called costume contacts, allow you to change the appearance of your eyes, and they’re especially popular around Halloween.
Whether you’re trying to dress up like a vampire, zombie or animal, you should avoid most decorative lenses — the special effects aren’t worth the risk to your eye health.
No Prescription Needed? Stay Away.
In the United States, contact lenses of all kinds are classified as medical devices, even if they are not designed to correct your eyesight. It’s illegal to sell decorative lenses without a valid prescription from the purchaser.
If you buy over-the-counter costume contacts from a source like an internet vendor or a costume store, you run the risk of infections, allergic reactions and potentially even permanent loss of vision.
Many Americans aren’t aware of the risks, or choose to ignore the warnings. According to a survey by the American Optometric Association, 16 percent of Americans have worn decorative lenses, and 26 percent of those bought them without a prescription.
Dangerous Side Effects
Decorative lenses can cause corneal abrasions, corneal ulcers and keratitis. Corneal abrasions are scratches and cuts on the iris and pupil. Corneal ulcers are open sores. Both conditions may cause redness, blurry vision and sensitivity to light. Both corneal abrasions and corneal ulcers can lead to complications that may require a complete corneal transplant.
Keratitis is a bacterial infection that can be painful and cause blindness. The American Academy of Ophthalmology reports that 60 percent of people who developed keratitis as a result of wearing decorative lenses sustained a permanent loss of vision from the infection.
Costume contacts may seem harmless, but they’re anything but.
Safety Is Key When it Comes to Contacts
It’s easy to overlook the fact that these products aren’t safe, since they may be sold in drugstores, costume shops and even gas stations. The false advertising on the packaging may even try to fool you by saying the product is “one size fits all,” but that’s false.
Don’t forget — safety is key when putting any type of contact lens in your eye.
You should only wear contacts after a licensed eye doctor measures and sizes your eyes. Only buy contacts from a trusted retailer that requires a prescription.
Always keep your contacts clean, and follow proper sanitation procedures. To prevent the spread of bacteria, wash your hands before you touch the lens and never share contacts with anyone else.
If you’ve never been sized for contact lenses, make an appointment at Salt Lake Eye Associates today. You can find out if you need corrective vision assistance, and get answers to all of your questions about decorative lenses before you finalize your Halloween costume.