Dangers of Halloween Contact Lenses

Dangers of Halloween Contact Lenses

The Nightmare of Halloween Contact Lenses

 With Halloween just around the corner, people are starting to put together their creepy costumes and perfecting their scary look. All that’s left is the Halloween contact lenses – and the scariest thing of all? They’re just one click away online.  They’re sold as fashion accessories, ‘one size fits all’ products that don’t cost a fortune and are available in an appealing range of colours and styles. As they’re sold in the shops and across the internet, they’re assumed to be completely safe. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Spooky Halloween contact lenses are rising in popularity amongst children and adults, and the terrifying truth is they can be extremely dangerous without the proper precautions in place. The ease of purchase is certainly concerning, with the FDA stating that contact lenses should never be bought from a street vendor, novelty store or Halloween store – a prescription is a must. Yet, it seems warnings continue to be cast aside.

Despite these warnings, a survey undertaken by AOA found that 16% of Americans have worn decorative contact lenses at some point. Of the 16% who have, 26% bought the lenses without a prescription and not from an eyecare professional. Without the proper guidance or consultation, there is a chance of painful complications – simply to outdo other Halloween goers’ costumes.

What Makes Cosmetic Contact Lenses Different?

Cosmetic contact lenses differ from standard contact lenses in that they appear to change the colour, size or shape of your eyes. They are not developed to improve your vision and are not just for Halloween either. They’re a prominent feature within the cosplay scene, and are also known as decorative or theatre lenses.

Seen as the final addition to add wow-factor to a costume, the market for cosmetic lenses is taking advantage of a dangerous loophole in the law.  If you want to make your eyes bigger, you can purchase non-FDA approved ‘circle’ or ‘anime’ lenses online. If you want to look like a cat or a snake, you can get them over the counter – it’s scarily simple. And every year around Halloween, they’re a costume staple.

What are the Dangers?

As they are not on prescription, contact lenses purchased purely for cosmetic reasons will not necessarily fit your eyes. They may be too big or too tight, meaning they could potentially tear your corneas. As everyone has different eyes, an optometrist should always be seen to measure and fit contact lenses correctly. In addition, an optometrist will be able to look at how well individual eyes respond to lenses – no two pairs of eyes are the same.

If advice is ignored, the damage that can be caused from Halloween or cosmetic contact lenses includes:

  • corneal abrasions (scratches on the eye)
  • corneal ulcers (sores)
  • eye infections – conjunctivitis, keratitis
  • in extreme cases, blindness

Corneal abrasions or scratches on your eye are caused by ill-fitting contact lenses that scrape the outer layer of your eyes. This can lead to redness, sensitivity to light and pain. Corneal ulcers on the other hand are similar to abrasions, but appear as white dots on the iris that can scar over and affect sight in the long run. If left, abrasions and ulcers can develop into nasty infections, which without treatment can potentially lead to permanent blindness.

More commonly, cosmetic contact lens wearers may suffer from conjunctivitis, an infection that causes inflammation and discomfort to the eyes. The reason for this is that people who use cosmetic lenses have often not been advised how to handle contact lenses properly and hygienically. If they’ve bought them over the counter or online there is no optometrist involved in the purchase to educate the wearer.

Wear and Care Misinformation

It is worth noting that contact lenses sold without a prescription are, unsurprisingly, not being regulated. Therefore, vendors have little to no concern for the guidance they are handing out. They could be giving out completely incorrect care and handling advice and a consumer would not be aware.

Without the proper guidance, misinformation on the wear and care of contact lenses can easily be spread. For instance, they may not know that contact lenses:

  • Should only ever be touched with clean hands
  • Should not be worn with prescription lenses
  • Should never be shared with anyone else
  • Should not be kept in water
  • Should be cleaned and stored with the proper solution
  • Should always be removed before sleeping.

Not knowing these six vital points can lead to a range of eye complications, and the information is not always readily available.


Keep Your Eyes Safe and Healthy this Halloween

If you’re firmly set on wearing Halloween contact lenses this year, but don’t want the risks associated with buying them over the counter or online, there are a few things you can do:

  • Have regular eye exams to monitor your vision and eye health
  • Visit an eye care professional to get a prescription that includes contact lens brand and lens dimensions
  • Purchase contact lenses from an eye care professional that requires a prescription
  • Closely follow care guidelines for cleaning and storing lenses
  • Always wash your hands before handling your lenses
  • Never share or sleep in your contact lenses
  • Remove them immediately at the first sign of discomfort or irritation.
  • Boost your vitamin intake for healthy eyes

Despite the risks and information warning people about Halloween and cosmetic contact lenses, they will still be purchased in the masses this Halloween season. At the end of the day, education and warnings are all that can done to dissuade people from making this risky decision. That is, until the loophole in the law is altered in the future.