Halloween comes but once a year. It is a day to put on a costume, gorge on candy, and maybe go all out with facial makeup to add to a fun or scary look. Completing that look with colored or special effect novelty contacts can provide polish for any costume. Finishing your outfit with specialized, non-prescription contact lenses – even if just once a year – can be extremely dangerous for your vision and eye health. If worn correctly, however, novelty lenses can be a safe and fun addition to a Halloween celebration.
Not Without a Prescription
If you search for decorative contacts online, you’ll find they’re available at a variety of places you wouldn’t normally turn to for lenses: convenience shops, Halloween stores, salons, and even music shops might sell these novelty items. When an eye doctor prescribes contact lenses, she makes sure that you’re a good candidate for contacts and that your cornea is well-suited for a lens. What makes these contact lenses dangerous is that they’re not prescription lenses – rather, they’ve been made to be a one-size-fits-all product for the masses.
Though novelty lenses are considered “plano,” meaning they don’t have corrective power, they are considered medical devices by the Food and Drug Administration, and thus require a prescription to be purchased in the United States. Because of this, retailers who sell Halloween or theatrical contacts without requiring a prescription are selling them illegally – don’t trust them! In October of 2016, thousands of pairs of illegal and unapproved contact lenses were seized from retailers. Testing of these lenses revealed they had high levels of bacteria and that many were made of lead-based materials.
Wearing lenses without a prescription from an optometrist could lead to health issues and possibly damage – perhaps permanent – to your eyesight. Improperly worn, poorly fitted, or contaminated contact lenses can cause bacterial eye infections quickly, leading to worse issues such as corneal ulcers and even blindness.
Safely Wearing Decorative Lenses
Though it’s vital to stay away from contact lenses that are offered without a prescription, it is possible to get safe specialized lenses. First, you’ll need a comprehensive eye exam from a licensed optometrist. Your doctor can give you a prescription that includes proper measurements for contact lenses. When you go to buy your lenses, make sure you use a retailer that requires a prescription, whether you purchase the lenses online or in person.
Caring for and wearing prescription Halloween or novelty contact lenses is similar to regular prescription contact lenses. It’s important to replace the lenses when recommended, wash your hands before handling them, clean and store them with fresh contact lens solution, and avoid sleeping in the contacts. In addition, because contact lenses are medical devices, they cannot be worn by more than one person – even if they’re considered “plano” lenses. Sharing contacts can lead to corneal abrasion, infection, or contagions such as pink eye.
Novelty contact lenses for Halloween can be perfectly safe as long as they’re acquired and worn carefully. To schedule a comprehensive eye exam to be fit for prescription contact lenses, contact us today.