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