Beware Decorative Contact Lenses for Halloween

SUMMARY: Know the risks you may be taking with your vision when using non-prescription decorative contact lenses; your eyes will thank you.
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Halloween is our biggest excuse to play dress-up and be as silly, horrifying, and over-the-top as we want. While some don pre-made, out of the package costumes, others carefully craft their garments, and take accessories very seriously. From bullet wounds and zombie makeup to artfully coifed locks and colored contact lenses, the devil is in the details for some.

But just like you need to be vigilant about using non-toxic body paint, you should also beware of non-prescription decorative or colored contact lenses. These lenses can transform your eyes into that of a cat, a werewolf, or a vampire, or make your brown eyes blue. But these lenses can do major harm if not fitted and used properly, even for a few short hours.

While decorative and colored contact lenses are primarily non-corrective, meaning that they do not help your vision, they are still considered medical devices by the FDA. They are not, as some might advertise, a “cosmetic,” which can freely be sold in stores or over the internet.

Decorative contact lenses must be fitted and prescribed by an ophthalmologist or optometrist. They are not, as the FDA describes them, “one size fits all.” For someone not used to wearing contacts (and caring for them properly), buying a pair that are a poor fit can cause eye damage, some of which could be long-lasting or permanent. Damage can include, scratches to the cornea, corneal infection, conjunctivitis, decreased vision, and even blindness.

In addition, there are care procedures for these decorative lenses, just as there are for regular ones. Cleaning and disinfecting are chief among them, but also making sure they are removed daily is of utmost concern. Late-night Halloween parties mean you may roll into bed without removing the lenses, and you could wake up with them adhered to your eyeball and difficult to remove without causing harm.

“The problem isn’t with the decorative contacts themselves,” says Bernard Lepri, O.D., M.S., M.Ed., an optometrist at FDA.  “It’s the way people use them improperly—without a valid prescription, without the involvement of a qualified eye care professional, or without appropriate follow-up care.”


Simple Rules About Decorative Lenses – Page 2

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