Non-prescription Contact Lenses Put Eyes at Risk

We look forward to Halloween as a fun time for trick-or-treating, parties, and creative costumes. But if your costume includes contact lenses for eerie eye effects, the doctors here at Atlantic Eye urge you to think twice about wearing them. Not only are they illegal to sell, but wearing costume contact lenses without a prescription can lead to serious eye infections or even permanent vision loss.

Decorative lenses, like regular contacts, are medical devices that must be prescribed and fitted by an eye care professional. A poorly fitted contact lens can easily scrape the cornea, the outer layer of the eye, making the eye more vulnerable to infection-causing bacteria and viruses. Sometimes scarring from an infection is so bad, a corneal transplant is required to restore vision. The most extreme cases can end in blindness.

Research shows that people who purchase contacts without a prescription face a 16-fold increased risk of developing an infection. Damage from eye infections can last a lifetime.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology offers the following tips to help ensure your Halloween costume won’t haunt you long after Oct. 31:

  • See an eye care professional to get a prescription for costume contact lenses. Packaging that claims “one size fits all” or “no need to see an eye doctor” is false.
  • Properly care for contact lenses. Proper care remains essential to protect your eyes from infections.
  • Never share contacts. Sharing contacts can spread germs, causing conditions such as pink eye, which is highly contagious.
  • Spread the word to others about the dangers of costume contacts. Don’t let friends make the mistake of wearing costume contacts without a prescription.

This October, Atlantic Eye joins the Academy to urge you to buy decorative contact lenses only from retailers who require a prescription and sell FDA-approved products. When you’re planning your Halloween costume, shun the unregulated off-the-shelf or online lenses. Consult with an Atlantic Eye ophthalmologist or optometrist, so you can enjoy your Halloween costume fun with safe and healthy eyes.