As Halloween approaches, people are beginning to plan their costumes. For the most dedicated Halloween revelers, that costume might include decorative contact lenses that change the appearance of the eye.
At Milan Eye Center, we strive not only to treat eye maladies but to prevent them from the start. In recognition of Halloween Eye Safety Month, we have compiled some tips on how to safely go about purchasing and wearing costume contact lenses.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to get your Halloween costume just right, down to the perfect eye color. However, there are factors you should consider before purchasing your decorative contact lenses. First and foremost, you should know that contact lenses, even decorative ones, are medical devices regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It is illegal to sell contact lenses without a prescription in the United States. If somebody tries to sell you decorative contact lenses without a prescription, they are breaking the law, and you should steer clear of their products.
Corneal Abrasion: There are good reasons for this law. Non-prescription contact lenses can have some frightening consequences. If your contact lenses are not professionally fitted to your eye, they can scratch your cornea, leaving you with what is called a corneal abrasion. These scratches are not only painful but can also lead to permanent damage and even blindness. There is no such thing as a “one size fits all” contact lens and so if you see contact lenses advertised in this way, don’t buy them. Even if you have perfect vision, you still need to get an eye exam and a prescription from an eye-care professional before you get your decorative contact lenses. Your prescription will include a measurement of your eyes to ensure that your new contact lenses fit.
Infection: In addition to the risk of corneal abrasion, non-prescription contact lenses are also significantly more likely to lead to infection. An eye infection from non-prescription, costume contact lenses can haunt you long after October 31st. Bacterial eye infections can cause damage quickly and can result in blindness, sometimes within as little as 24 hours, if not diagnosed and treated promptly.
When we say that you should only wear prescription contact lenses, we mean lenses that were prescribed to you specifically, not to a friend or family member. Somebody else’s contacts will not fit your eyes, which means an increased risk of corneal abrasion. Additionally, sharing contacts can spread germs, leading to infection or highly contagious conditions, such as pink eye.
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The good news is that you can get decorative contact lenses that are safe. You just need to go through a legitimate avenue to get them. First, you need to get an eye exam from a licensed eye doctor. Your doctor will give you a prescription that includes a brand name, lens measurements, and an expiration date. Then when you go to buy your lenses, make sure you go to a seller that requires you to provide a prescription, whether you purchase your contacts in-person or online. Once you have your contact lenses, be sure to follow all directions for cleaning, disinfecting, and wearing the lenses.
At Milan Eye Center, we do not dispense contact lenses or glasses, but if you need help finding somebody who does, we can refer you to a local optometrist. Stay safe and have a happy Halloween!
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