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Why You Should Be Afraid — Very Afraid — Of Non-prescription Costume Contact Lenses for Halloween

With Halloween only a few days away, many of you are looking for ways to spice up your Halloween costumes with accessories such as facial masks, special makeup and costume contact lenses. After all, what could be a better disguise than different eye color? However, wearing non-prescription contact lenses can result in a painful eye injury or even permanent damage to vision.

These lenses may look neat, especially those that give the appearance of tiger eyes, orange eyes, checkered pupils, and numerous other spooky effects. However they are not sterile, poorly fit the eye, and are often sold illegally.

“Most people who purchase costume contacts don’t have a clue about the dangers they can pose, such as eye infections, corneal abrasions, and even blindness,” said Dr. Sandy T. Feldman. “That’s why the Federal Drug Administration regulates the sale of all contact lenses, to prevent serious damage that non-prescription lenses can cause if they don’t fit right or aren’t properly cleaned or disinfected. Contact lenses need to be cleaned daily.”

The FDA banned the sale of all non-prescription contact lenses ten years ago, classifying all contact lenses as medical devices and allowing only licensed eye care professionals to distribute and prescribe them to patients.

If you’re planning to wear a Halloween costume this year that requires decorative lenses, make sure to following Dr. Feldman’s advice:

    • Consult a professional: When purchasing costume contact lenses, it is best to consult first with an eye care professional, such as an optometrist or ophthalmologist.
    • Get an eye exam: An eye exam is important in order to ensure that the contact lenses fit properly and are appropriate for the user.
    • Follow proper care instructions: Be sure to follow the specific instructions for cleaning, disinfecting, and wearing your lenses.
    • Be aware of unusual symptoms: When wearing contact lenses, be aware of any unusual or excessive discharge, redness, swelling, or discomfort.
    • Check the fit of face masks: Make sure the eyeholes are large enough that they don’t restrict vision.
    • Do a trial run with costume makeup: Chemicals in costume makeup can irritate the skin and eyes, so be sure to do a small test patch of any product on your hand well before the big night.

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