Beware of Decorative Contact Lenses
As Halloween approaches, obtaining decorative contact lenses to complete that awesome costume you have may sound like a great idea; however, these specialty lenses can pose a risk to your ocular health. With an improper fit and low oxygen transmission, the potential for eye infections, inflammation, and possible vision loss increases with wear.
Legally, contact lenses are considered medical devices and are, therefore, regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Contact lenses cannot be sold by unauthorized vendors without a valid contact lens prescription from your eye doctor. Although illegal, many unlicensed vendors, whether online, at a thrift store, beauty supply store, or other retail shop, choose to target consumers for cosmetic lenses without regard to their health and safety. Over-the-counter contact lenses not approved by the FDA may contain harmful materials or chemicals, as recently discovered by the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Some of the dyes that are pressed or printed on the costume lenses can create irregularity or roughness which can scratch the surface of the eye, making it more prone to infection.
A proper lens fit and appropriate care instruction is essential. Consumers are encouraged to purchase decorative contact lenses from their optometrist where a contact lens prescription is required and only FDA-approved products are sold. Poor habits that increase the chance of problems with contacts, particularly specialty cosmetic lenses, include overwear or sleeping in lenses, not properly cleaning the lenses with disinfecting solution, borrowing contacts from a friend or relative, or storing lenses for excessive periods of time. Signals of potential eye damage include redness, swelling, pain, or discharge. If you experience any of these symptoms while wearing contact lenses, immediately seek care from your local optometrist or ophthalmologist. If an eye infection is left untreated, blindness can occur.
You only get one set of eyes, so please be careful this holiday and don't take chances with your eyesight. Happy Halloween!
Pamela Lynch, OD
West Shore Eye Care