5 Frightening Risks of Wearing Costume Contacts

Ophthalmologists Warn of Five Frightening Risks of Wearing Costume Contact Lenses Without a Prescription

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Zombie or devil contact lenses may elevate a Halloween costume’s fright factor, but wearing them without a prescription could result in something far more terrifying – blindness. The Austin Diagnostic Clinic joins the American Academy of Ophthalmology in urging Halloween shoppers to understand the risks of wearing over-the-counter contact lenses.

While it is illegal to sell non-prescription contact lenses, they can still be easily purchased at many places such as beauty supply stores, costume shops and on the web. Falsely advertised as “one-size-fits-all” or “no prescription necessary,” these lenses can cause serious eye damage. One girl became partially blind in her left eye, the top layer of her cornea having been ripped off, after a mere four hours of wearing non-prescription contact lenses she bought at a jewelry booth.

Ophthalmologists – the physicians and surgeons that specialize in medical and surgical eye care – are reminding people of five frightening consequences of ignoring the warnings:

1. Scratches to the eye

If contacts are not professionally fitted to your eye, they can scratch the clear front window of the eye. This is called a corneal abrasion, which is not only painful, but can cause permanent damage.  Treatment often involves medication and patching, but in some cases damage cannot be reversed.

2. Infection

Research shows wearing non-prescription contacts increases the risk of an infection called keratitis by 16 times.1 Early treatment with antibiotic or steroid drops may preserve vision, but sometimes surgery, such as corneal transplantation, is necessary.

3. Pink eye

Never share contacts because doing so can spread germs, causing conditions such as pink eye. Highly contagious, pink eye treatment depends on the cause, but typically includes antibiotic drops.

4. Decreased vision

Whether from a corneal scratch or infection, wearing non-prescription contacts can lead to decreased vision.

5. Blindness

It’s no scare tactic: wearing non-prescription contacts can lead to permanent vision loss.

Experts suggest the use of masks or makeup to enhance your costume.   Make sure any makeup used around the eye is hypoallergenic and eye safe.  Test a small area first before applying makeup to the entire face. Keep makeup away from the eyes and leave a margin around the eye area so that you can protect the eyes from products that can sting or burn. After the party or trick-or-treating, remove makeup promptly to prevent irritation.