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Beware and Take Care When Wearing Colored Contact Lenses This Halloween!

Countless adults, teens and even children will be wearing colored contact lenses this Halloween, but few are aware of the risks involved. Ever wondered what those cat-eye contacts are doing to your eyes? If you got them without a prescription, beware of health complications.

Enjoy a safe and happy Halloween by educating yourself and others about the dangers of wearing colored contact lenses without a prescription.

What Eye Damage Can Over-The-Counter Colored Contact Lenses Cause?

Contact lenses made to change one’s appearance go by many names: cosmetic, theatrical, Halloween, circle, decorative, colored, or costume contact lenses. While it’s illegal to sell colored contact lenses without a prescription, authorities rarely enforce the law — which means they’re still accessible in many places.

Many people believe that wearing non-prescription color contact lenses can cause no harm. This unfortunate myth has led to many contact lens complications. For instance, when a person feels that a contact lens is “dry”, it could be because the lens is not a good fit. Ideally, the lens should follow the contour of the eye, and stay centered, with enough lens movement to allow tear exchange beneath the lens. 

Furthermore, non-medical colored contact lenses are often produced by unlicensed manufacturers that tend to use inferior plastic and toxic materials, such as lead (often used in lens coloring), which can get absorbed through the eyes into the bloodstream. These illegal lenses may also contain high levels of bacteria from unsanitary packaging, shipping, and storage conditions.

Therefore, purchasing any kind of contact lenses without a prescription or medical oversight can result in a variety of eye complications, such as corneal abrasions, eye sores, conjunctivitis, other eye infections, vision impairment and, in rare cases, even permanent vision loss. 

Even if you have perfect vision, all contact lenses, including colored contacts, require a prescription and proper fitting by an optometrist.

You would not want to risk your vision or eye health for just a few hours of festive display. A quick visit with Dr. Harold Ashcraft can ensure the use of contacts that will not harm your eyes. 

Contact us at Family Eyecare Center of Optometry and make an appointment with Dr. Harold Ashcraft to get properly examined for a contact lens prescription. 

The Dos and Don’ts of Colored Contact Lenses

  • DO make sure you undergo a comprehensive eye exam by an optometrist who will measure your eyes and properly fit you for contact lenses.  
  • DO get a valid prescription that includes the measurements, expiration date and the contact lens brand name.
  • DO purchase the decorative contact lenses from a reliable retailer (hint: they should demand a prescription.)
  • DO follow the contact lens hygiene directives (cleaning, inserting and removing lenses) provided by your eye doctor. 
  • DO make sure to undergo follow-up eye exams as directed by your eye care professional.
  • DON’T ever share contact lenses with anyone else.

So don’t let an eye infection get in the way of your fun this Halloween. Wearing decorative lenses without a valid prescription can result in serious harm to your eyes, which can haunt you long after October 31st.  

Get your comprehensive eye exam and contact lens fitting by an eye doctor in Westchester, Los Angeles at Family Eyecare Center of Optometry.

The Scary Truth About Non-Prescription Halloween Contacts

Are you looking for the perfect Halloween costume this year?

You may have considered how costume contacts can give you that finishing touch to make others say WOW. Yellow cat eyes, fiery blood red, white-out, or walking dead zombie—these are just a few of the colors and designs that are available.

Just know this–

When buying costume contact lenses, make sure you have a valid contact lens prescription and that you buy them from a reputable location.

Non-prescription costume contact lenses are sometimes found in beauty shops, Halloween stores, and are widely available on the Internet. They are advertised like beauty accessories or cosmetics, so many people do not give a second thought to their safety.

However, this is far from the truth.

Wearing non-prescription contact lenses can pose serious risks to your eye health and vision.

Before adding these contact lenses to your shopping bag, consider these points:

You Need An Eye Exam With Your Eye Care Professional First

Contact lenses are considered medical devices by the FDA. Even if you have perfect vision, you must have a valid prescription from a licensed eye care professional to purchase them.

In fact, non-prescription contacts lens sales are illegal in the United States.

There is no such thing as a “One Size Fits All” contact lens. Your eye doctor will take measurements to get a properly fitting contact lens—one that is neither too tight nor too loose on your eye.

Your eye doctor can tell you if you are a good candidate for contact lenses based on your history of eye allergies, dry eye, and/or recurring eye infections.

Halloween Contacts Can Be Dangerous For Your Eye Health

Non-Prescription Contacts May Scratch Your Eye

Scratching the eye, also known as corneal abrasions, may occur because over-the-counter contacts have not been properly fit and measured for your eye. Corneal abrasions may cause redness, blurry vision, irritation, pain, discharge, and light sensitivity.

Contacts Increase Risk For Corneal Ulcers

Wearing contact lenses (including misuse) increases your risk for corneal ulcers. These are painful, open sores on the transparent outer layer of the eye. If left untreated, these ulcers can cause permanent scarring, loss of vision, or blindness.

You May Be More Likely To Get Eye Infections

Open sores and scratches in the eye lead to increased risk of bacterial and viral infections. Bacterial keratitis is an infection of the cornea that can lead to serious ocular problems including corneal scarring and blindness. It is most often caused by the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa

You Could Permanently Lose Your Vision

The worst case scenario resulting from wearing non-prescription costume contacts is blindness. Complications from ulcers or bacterial infections can lead to permanent scarring and require surgery to try to preserve your sight. Some have required corneal transplants.

For your safety and best interest, follow these tips from the American Academy of Ophthalmology before purchasing and wearing costume contact lenses:

  • Make sure to get an eye exam from your eye doctor. He or she will measure your eyes to ensure a proper fitting and will discuss how to care for your lenses.
  • Get a valid contact lens prescription with your lens measurements and an expiration date.
  • Do not buy contact lenses from any retailer who does not ask for this prescription.
  • Do not share your contacts.
  • Practice hygienic contact lens care through proper cleaning, disinfecting, wearing, and storage.
  • Always wash your hands before putting in or taking out lenses.
  • If you experience side effects including eye redness, irritation, pain or discomfort, remove your lenses and speak with an eye care professional.

It is not too late to put your perfect Halloween costume together.

If you would like to order decorative contact lenses, call our office today!

After an eye examination with Dr. Ashcraft, we can order these lenses for you and make your Halloween vision become a reality.

Top image by Flickr user Elmercarty used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped from original.
Sources:

Colored Contact Lenses: https://www.aao.org/eye-health/glasses-contacts/colored-lenses
Corneal Ulcer: https://www.medicinenet.com/corneal_ulcer/article.htm
Four Ways Over-the-Counter Contact Lenses Can Ruin Vision: https://www.aao.org/eye-health/news/four-ways-costume-contact-lenses-ruin-vision
Halloween Hazard: The Hidden Dangers of Buying Decorative Contact Lenses Without a Prescription: https://www.aao.org/eye-health/news/scary-lenses
“Halloween contacts can be dangerous” Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXt0Ie5CLlg

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