Colorful contact lenses might seem like a fun, harmless addition to your child or teen’s Halloween costume. But health experts warn that some of these cosmetic accessories put people’s eye health and vision at risk.
As you might be aware, "costume" contact lenses are not meant to correct vision like traditional lenses; instead, they simply change the appearance of the eyes for cosmetic purposes. But as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) points out, a person needs a prescription to wear any type of contact lens — even if it’s just for fun.
“They are not ‘one size fits all,’” the FDA explained in a news alert. “An eye doctor (ophthalmologist or optometrist) must measure each eye to properly fit the lenses and evaluate how your eye responds to contact lens wear. A poor fit can cause serious eye damage.”
Anyone who's ever worn contact lenses knows how irritating they can be whenever there's a minor issue, such as a stray eyelash stuck on them. But a contact lens that doesn't fit correctly can lead to scratches on the cornea (the clear tissue over the iris), a corneal infection, pink eye, and decreased vision. The worst-case scenario is potential blindness.
It's no shock that the Mayo Clinic has also issued a public warning when it comes to colorful contact lenses: Halloween buyer, beware. Specifically, experts caution against anyone purchasing contact lenses from boutiques, novelty shops, and Halloween stores.
"The only safe contact lenses are when you go to an eye doctor — so somebody who is actually certified in being able to look at your eyes and fit you for a prescription," said internal medicine specialist Vandana Bhide, MD, in an article for Mayo Clinic Minute.
It's worth keeping in mind that since contact lenses are medical devices, they always require proper care from the person wearing them, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. This involved not only getting properly fitted for contacts by a licensed eye doctor, but also cleaning and disinfecting those prescribed lenses before and after you wear them — every time. Be sure to remind your child or teen not to toss caution to the wind with proper contact lens care just because it's Halloween.
After all, the last thing you want for the holiday is a scary emergency trip to the eye doctor!