October is a well-loved month by people of all ages; with the beginning of fall, leaves changing color, trips to the pumpkin patch, trick-or-treating, and Halloween parties, October can be a fun month full of excitement. As you plan your costume, keep in mind that October is also Eye Injury Prevention Month, and a great way to celebrate is by avoiding cosmetic contact lenses when deciding on your Halloween costume.
Cosmetic VS Prescription Lenses
Cosmetic contact lenses, also known as costume contact lenses, are lenses designed to change the way your eye looks. These kinds of contacts mask the color of your eye and can even change the appearance of your iris or pupil. The center part of the contact is most often left clear while the outer part will have its own color that either enhances or entirely masks the natural color of the eye. These costume contacts are especially popular during the Halloween season, with party-goers attempting to look like vampires, zombies, aliens, cats, and plenty of other creatures using costume lenses.
However, these contacts tend to lack something important: a prescription from your eye doctor. Contact lenses are, for good reason, classified by the FDA as medical devices. When you get contacts from your eye doctor, it’s not just to decide what power your lenses should be; your eye doctor also takes measurements of your eye to ensure that your contacts fit perfectly. This perfect fit allows you to see clearly without any discomfort or damage.
When you order cosmetic lenses online or purchase them in a retail store, this fit isn’t guaranteed. Even if a website lets you enter the power of your prescription, eye measurements are ignored, leaving you with “one size fits all” contacts—and one size never fits all.
Effects on Eye Health
Ill-fitting contacts come with issues ranging from discomfort to blindness. On the less extreme side of things, colored contact lenses can cause problems like vision impairment. Some costume contacts, usually designed for Halloween, intentionally block the pupil altogether.
In more severe cases, ill-fitting lenses can scratch the surface of your eye, creating a corneal abrasion. If this abrasion goes untreated, it can become infected, which in turn can cause permanent damage, including vision loss. This can happen with typical, clear contact lenses as well, but thanks to your eye doctor, your normal contacts will fit correctly.
Concerns from the FDA
Moreover, because all contact lenses are considered medical devices, selling them without a prescription from a doctor is actually illegal. While that doesn’t stop some online retailers, costume shops, and party stores from selling them, know that the FDA strongly recommends against purchasing contact lenses in these ways. On top of concerns regarding proper fit, quality can become an issue; if these vendors are willing to sell products illegally, they are also likely willing to sell cheaply-made junk.
When you get contacts from your eye doctor, you’re also given instructions and information on how to properly wear and take care of your contacts. Costume contacts come without these instructions or advice from medical professionals. Without proper instruction, contacts may not be stored, disinfected, or handled properly, leading to dry eyes or infection.
How To Safely Get Cosmetic Lenses
Costume contact lenses are dangerous because they are most commonly purchased from dangerous sources. If you want to alter the color of your eyes using cosmetic contact lenses, visit your eye doctor, even if you don’t require vision correction. Your eye doctor can correctly fit you for quality colored contact lenses and show you how to properly care for them, helping you avoid the above issues.
This Halloween, skip the cheap cosmetic lenses from online retailers. Everett & Hurite’s team of eye care professionals and contact lenses specialists in the Pittsburgh area can give you the best advice on colored contacts. Schedule an appointment online or call (412) 288-0858 for more information.