Costume contacts can hurt your eyes long after Halloween fun ends
Halloween is next week and people are busy putting together their perfect costumes. That could mean the perfect wig, the perfect makeup, maybe even the perfect colored contact lenses. But buying over-the counter lenses can have potentially damaging effects to a person's vision.
The contact lens industry is overseen by the Federal Drug Administration, and to approve a contact lens product, the FDA requires a doctor's exam and a prescription, said Dr. Joseph Calderone of Better Vision New Jersey in Cranford and Westfield. Costume colored contact lenses are not FDA approved.
Without that approval, Calderone said you run the risk of manufacturing defects and hygiene issues. That can include whether there's the potential for contamination from the cases the contact lenses are, in and other problems that might occur.
Calderone said another problem is that a lot of these costume colored contact lenses are made overseas and therefore do not adhere to the U-S's FDA regulations, which could then prove damaging.
The American Optometric Association found that 26 percent of Americans who purchased non-corrective lenses did not have a prescription, even though it is illegal to sell non-prescribed lenses.
Calderone added that despite their fun look, Ophthalmology and Visual Science found that those people who purchased non-prescribed lenses had a 16 times greater risk of infection than those who obtained a prescription from an eye doctor.
There are some injuries that can occur with costume colored contact lenses, especially irritation and disruption of the surface of the eye, typically the cornea.
"This hunk of plastic makes for a relatively stagnant, tearful film pool between the lens and the corneal surface so the bacteria turnover is less and it's a nice and cozy place for bacteria to find defects in the surface of the cornea and cause an infection," he said
With these infections come pain and possibly even scarring, Calderone said. That scarring, if it's on-center can cause vision loss, which could be irreversible. Fortunately, most contact lens infections, statistically, occur off-center so there is a potential debilitation issue, but not a permanent loss in vision, said Calderone.
With all these potential issues, Calderone said to really think twice if this is all worth it just to get a big effect at the party you're going to for Halloween.
If you really have your heart set on wearing colored contact lenses, Calderone said to take proper measures. That means scheduling an eye appointment to be fit for these lenses properly and professionally.
Of course, keep in mind, he said don't wait until October 29th because it will be too late as contact lenses need to be ordered and it takes a bit of time. More information on Halloween contact lens dangers can be found here.
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