By Dr. Tina Eckhardt
Decorative Contact Lenses for Halloween Can be Dangerous for Your Eyes!
Do you go all out to create the best costume and makeup for Halloween? One popular Halloween accessory can be a danger to your eyes. Decorative contact lenses, which can change the look of your eyes, may seem like a great way to enhance your costume, but what many people don’t realize is that serious eye disorders can be caused by these lenses.
Although over-the-counter sales of nonprescription cosmetic lenses have been illegal in the United States since 2005, decorative contacts are still widely available in retail stores and on the Internet. Many web sites market decorative contacts as if they were cosmetics, advertising “one size fits all” and “no need to see an eye specialist”. Federal law classifies all contact lenses as medical devices and restricts their distribution to licensed eye care professionals. Illegal sale of contact lenses can result in civil penalties. Be sure to only buy costume contacts from retailers who require a prescription to purchase the lenses and who only sell FDA-approved contact lenses.
Novelty products, like circle lenses, that make the iris appear bigger so that the wearer has a “doe-eyed,” or Anime, look, are not FDA-approved. Circle lenses can be particularly harmful, because the lens covers more of the eye than regular corrective lenses, which makes it very difficult for necessary oxygen to get through to the eye.
Even if you have perfect vision, you must always have an eye examination and obtain a prescription prior to wearing contact lenses. Non-prescription costume contacts can cause injuries such as cuts and open sores in the protective layer of the iris and pupil (corneal abrasions and corneal ulcers) and potentially blinding painful bacterial infections (keratitis).
Don’t risk your vision for a Halloween effect. To protect your eyes, if you have to have decorative lenses, get them fitted by an eye care professional who will instruct you on correct use. One more safety tip, wear well-fitting masks to avoid limited vision and have a happy and healthy Halloween.
BIO: Tina Eckhardt, M.D., is a board certified comprehensive ophthalmologist at Eye Surgeons Associates with special interest in contact lens fittings and dry eye. Dr. Eckhardt practices at our office in Bettendorf, Iowa. For more information, please see our website: esaeyecare.com.
The material contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider.