The Dangers of Novelty Halloween Contact Lenses

Nobody wants to be a party pooper on Halloween when everyone is up for having a good time, but please don’t let a nasty eye infection be the scariest part of your spooky celebrations this year. 
Cosmetic contact lenses have become all the rage and today you can find everything from cats’ eyes to snakes’ eyes and from dead eyes to red eyes, but we urge you to be very careful when buying these eyewear accessories and here is why. They might look just like a bit of fun but, believe us, they can cause a whole host of problems.

What Are Cosmetic Lenses?

These funky looking contacts are often sold as decorative or theatre lenses and they are marketed as eyewear that can change the colour and even the shape of your eyes. It is no surprise then that when the ghoul and goblin costumes are putting in an appearance that sales of this novelty eyewear go crazy. While we don’t want to put you off completely, we feel that people need to be aware of how these cosmetic accessories pose a risk to eye health.
Because decorative lenses don’t correct vision, many people see them as harmless. They can also be purchased online without a prescription or from a beauty salon or even a market stall, so understandably people are led to believe that that makes them OK. Unfortunately this is far from the truth.

Why Are They Different?

Your eyes are so precious and are a very delicate organ. You come and see us as opticians because you want to invest in your vision so it seems counterintuitive to put yourself at risk for the sake of cosmetics. For those of us who wear contact lenses already, we know how important choosing the right kind is. We will also remember how we were first taught to put the lenses in, take them out and how to look after them too. Anyone who has not been taught the proper hygiene and usage of contact lenses risks scratching the surface of the eye or introducing bacteria that can lead to a serious infection and even permanent damage to the eye and vision. 
Contact lenses come in different types and can be hard or soft. Some are gas permeable and some are worn for a month at a time while others only for a few hours. All have been scientifically designed to offer protection and comfort to specific types of eyes. There is a reason, after all, as to why your prescription contacts and spectacles come at a price; it is because they are carefully manufactured and designed with eye health as a priority. Novelty contacts are most definitely not!

What Are The Dangers?

Many people report pain when they are wearing these decorative eyewear accessories and on removal have experienced other complications. At the very least they can cause scratching on the cornea (the clear covering on the front of the eye) and eye infections; both of these can cause permanent scarring and irritation, but they have also been known to cause open sores, in the form of ulcers on the cornea, reduced vision and even blindness. 
Often stored incorrectly and delivered in unsanitary packaging, these lenses contain abnormal levels of nasty bacteria. They are thin and are made from substandard unlicensed materials that sometimes include toxic substances such as lead, which is very alarming when you think it can then be absorbed into the bloodstream. Halloween is just around the corner but this is the stuff of real nightmares!

Interesting Fact: If someone is selling zero powered contacts without the supervision of a registered medical practitioner, optometrist or dispensing optician they could be breaking the law. After serious concerns were raised with regards to the negative impact on eye health, The Opticians Act was tightened. 

Top Tips

See Your Optician While most opticians won’t stock decorative lenses, if you really have to ‘get that look’ or are desperate for the final piece for your Halloween costume, our advice is to see an optometrist. They will examine you, measure your eyes and provide you with a prescription based on how the lens fits. The optician will also provide all the information you need on how to care for your eyewear and your eyes too.
Make Sure The Prescription Matches  Always check your purchase when it arrives and make sure that every detail matches that on your prescription. 
Buy Responsibly Only purchase from a reliable retailer. Any retailer worth considering will always ask for a prescription; this is your clue to their legitimacy.
Be Clean Follow cleaning and storing instructions carefully and make sure you have been taught how to insert and remove the lens properly. 
Follow-Up If you wear this cosmetic eyewear regularly make sure you see the optician frequently. Sharing is not Caring Never share your contacts with anyone else, no matter how tempting it might be to borrow your friend’s super cool pair!

A Final Word!
Don’t ruin your fun filled Halloween this year by buying decorative lenses. The consequences are just not worth it and may end up haunting you long after the event! Our advice is to stick with the face paints and leave the other worldly contacts right out of the picture, but if you really must buy some dramatic novelty eyewear, you now know the potential risks you are taking and what you can do to minimise them. Safeguarding your precious sight has to be a priority; take it from the experts!