Potential Halloween Danger: Cosmetic Contact Lenses

Potential Halloween Danger: Cosmetic Contact LensesHalloween is a time for trick-or-treating, haunted houses and spooky costumes. According to the National Retail Federation, Americans plan to spend an average of $3.2 billion on Halloween costumes, apparel and accessories; one of the most popular of which are cosmetic contact lenses.

For some, cosmetic contact lenses are the perfect accent to their festive and ghoulish attire. However, according to health officials, wearing these decorative accessories can come with a price and consumers are warned to steer clear of these potential dangers.

According to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), these type of lenses are typically sold at seasonal, holiday-themed and novelty stores, street vendors and online – all without an examination or prescription. Wearing contact lenses of any kind without a prescription can cause serious vision issues.
 
“Harmful chemicals from these lenses can get into the cornea and the complications can be quite serious,” said Dr. Joel Silbert, chief of the Cornea & Contact Lens Service at The Eye Institute (TEI) of Salus University.

The process used to color the surface of the lenses can also cause scratches to the cornea and the lenses themselves have been linked to numerous visual health conditions ranging from infections to conjunctivitis and impaired vision.  

Colored Contact Lenses for Halloween
For that reason, contact lenses – even those worn for cosmetic purposes - should always be purchased from an optometrist or other licensed eye care professional (including retailers) who require a prescription.

“It’s not worth going blind. If the lenses are suitable and approved by the FDA, the results can be beautiful but a patient needs an examination and the lenses must be dispensed properly,” Dr. Silbert said.

He also stresses the importance of proper contact lens safety.

Below are some quick tips to remember:
 
  • Never sleep in your contact lenses unless your doctor’s prescription allows.
  • Keep water away from your contact lenses. Contacts can absorb water and any bacteria it contains, which can lead to eye infections.
  • Always wash your hands before touching your eyes or your contact lenses.
  • Store your lenses in the proper cleaning or storage solution – never in tap water.
  • Never wear a pair of contact lenses longer than prescribed by your optometrist.

For more information on TEI’s full range of traditional and specialty contact lens services, please call 215.276.6111.