Coming up with the perfect Halloween costume can be very exciting, whether it is a funny or scary costume. Many people want to complete the desired look with decorative or Halloween contacts. Unfortunately, Halloween contacts can have scary consequences. Contact lenses are medical devices and should not be viewed simply as decorative or cosmetic.
Some of the possible complications of Halloween Contacts include:
- corneal abrasion
- eye infection
- allergic reaction
Are Halloween contacts illegal?
Selling contact lenses without a doctor’s prescription is illegal. If you come across a site that doesn’t require a doctor’s prescription, these lenses are being sold illegally. Many sites will state the contact lenses are FDA approved, but that doesn’t mean they are appropriate for you. Lenses need to fit well to allow for proper tear exchange and allow enough oxygen to enter the eye.
Halloween contacts have more pigments and are thicker as a result allowing less oxygen to enter the eye. The pigments in Halloween Contacts can still cause allergic reactions in some people. Some sites and shops sell non FDA-approved contact lenses. Non FDA-approved lenses may even contain dangerous chemicals that may be toxic to the surface of the eye. Some contact lenses were reported to contain chlorine which seeped into the eye after a rinse.
Why do I need to see a doctor?
Many people think that because coloured contacts are cosmetic, they don’t need to see a doctor. Even if you have good eyesight, you still need to consult an optometrist before ordering contact lenses. Your optometrist will recommend safe contact lenses for your eyes that fit properly. Poorly-fitting contact lenses can scratch the surface of the eye (corneal abrasions) or not allow enough oxygen to enter the eye.
A scratch on the eye can allow harmful bacteria to penetrate deeper into the eye, resulting in a much more serious infection, a corneal ulcer. Corneal ulcers are very serious and can lead to scarring and permanent vision loss.
The risk of eye infections is higher with decorative or Halloween contact lenses. Contact-lens related eye infections tend to be more serious infections in general. This is especially true with decorative contact lenses that made of materials that don’t allow as much oxygen to enter the eye. Types of eye infections include bacteria conjunctivitis, keratitis or a corneal ulcer.
Signs of eye infection include
- Coloured discharge
- sensitivity to light
Are Halloween Contacts worth the risk?
Don’t let one night of fun leave you with serious long-term consequences. We are not exaggerating when we say people lose their vision. A serious eye infection can lead to potential blindness in one eye. Always consult your optometrist before ordering contact lenses.
Dr Angela Issa, optometrist