Halloween is a fabulous time of the year where children can dress up as their favourite characters and go house-to-house collecting lollies and chocolates. It is also a time for adults to have dress-up fun.
As adults we tend to go for the more ghoulish, ghostly and macabre kind of Halloween outfits. Whilst this is all good fun, it is in dressing up your face that serious problems can occur. During the month of October, The Eye Practice (like many other Optometry practices) receives numerous telephone calls regarding coloured contact lenses, “crazy” contact lenses, novelty contact lenses and scleral contact lenses (that also colour the white of the eye).
Nothing quite makes an outfit like scary-looking, black eyeballs right?
What are the risks?
If you are thinking about getting some special-effects contact lenses, you should think again, especially if you are considering buying them online. Contact lenses, regardless of what purpose they are used for, are a MEDICAL DEVICE and are not to be treated lightly.
Whilst they seem like fun and complement your Halloween outfit, they can pose a serious threat to both your eye health and your vision, particularly if they are not properly fitted.
Contact lenses, whether corrective or fun should never be purchased from a market stall, a beauty salon, a cosmetic shop or online. They should always be prescribed and fitted by a qualified optometrist.
Many people do buy ‘crazy’ contact lenses without being properly fitted every year and nothing goes wrong, but what if it does? What are the risks? Are they worth it for one day of fun?
The risks include:
• Corneal Infection
• A scratch on the cornea (outer layer of eyeball)
• Allergic reaction
• Vision loss
• Pink Eye or conjunctivitis
If you really want to make your Halloween outfit pop with some scary eyes, you can. Just do it the right way.
DO: Here is what is recommended for healthy contact-lens wear
1. MAKE AN APPOINTMENT WITH YOUR OPTOMETRIST
Your optometrist will check your eyes and ensure that your corneas are healthy and recommend a contact lens for you. Not all corneas are the same. Just as we all have different size feet, we all have different shape corneas. If you were to squeeze your feet into a pair of shoes that were 2 sizes too small, what would that do to your feet? Would you risk that kind of damage to your eyes?
2. FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS
- Your optometrist will advise insertion and removal instructions.
- Always ensure hands are clean when handling your lenses.
- Be sure to clean contact lenses and contact lens case as instructed
- Always take your contact lenses out overnight. Sleeping in contact lenses can cause serious eye trauma.
3. UNDERSTAND WHEN YOUR EYES ARE COMPLAINING
Eyes, like the rest of our body, tell us when they are struggling. If while wearing your contact lenses you feel any of the following, the lenses must be removed and medical attention sought as soon as possible:
- Itching /burning
- Foreign-body sensation (feeling like you have something in your eye)
- Blurry vision
DON'T: Here is a guide to avoiding common mistakes
1. Do not buy contact lenses without a prescription
I cannot stress enough the importance of having the lenses fitted properly. With a contact lens that has been fitted you can have a fabulous Halloween knowing you are not risking your vision for a little fun.
2. Do not buy contact lenses from a market stall or cosmetic shop
It is important that the contact lenses you buy have FDA approval and cannot be supplied without a prescription. Contact lenses that are available online are a particular concern, as we do not know where they are being manufactured or how. Researches in Japan Published a paper in September 2015, where chlorine had been found in 3 different types of contact lenses. Something like this on the eye would cause severe corneal ulcers or keratitis.
3. Do not share your contact lenses with other people
Contact lenses are never to be shared. All eyes are not the same size or shape and your lenses are fitted for your eyes only. You would not share your toothbrush and they are not specifically fitted for you, so do not share your contact lenses.
4. Do not assume that just wearing them one time without a proper fitting will be okay
Sure, your friends may have tried buying and wearing unprescribed coloured contact-lenses for Halloween and it worked out okay, buy they were just lucky that time. You have two eyes. Imagine life without them.
5. Do not continue to wear your lenses when your eyes start to feel uncomfortable
Is it worth it? Contact lenses can irritate the eyes, even when prescribed. Eyes were never designed to have a device in them. Should you start to feel any discomfort, they must be removed immediately.
6. Do not wait to seek medical attention, should you have any problems
If the eyes feel irritated at all, you should consult your optometrist as soon as possible and ensure that the eye is clear of any infection.
Follow these guidelines and have a safe and Happy Halloweens Day!