It used to be that the scariest things to happen around Halloween were the slasher flicks at the local multiplex, or if you have kids, the perennial urban legend of poison- or razor blade-tainted trick-or-treat candy. However, this year, ophthalmologists are speaking out about another fear, a very real one. Fashion contact lenses.
A necessary ingredient for many Halloween costumes, decorative or fashion contacts are not inherently dangerous. That said they can result in serious complications if they are not properly fitted and cleaned. Consequently, recent FDA legislation made it illegal to market these non-prescription lenses as over-the-counter products.
Dr. Thomas Steinemann, a clinical correspondent for the American Academy of Ophthalmology, cautioned in a release, “Permanent eye damage can occur from using over-the-counter lenses. Any type of contact lens is a medical device that requires a prescription and proper fitting by an eye-care professional.” Some of the complications include pain, inflammation, infection, and permanent vision loss (via Bloomberg Businessweek).
Here are some recommendations from the FDA for people who plan to get decorative contacts:
1. Get a contact lens eye exam from a licensed eye care professional, even if you feel your vision is perfect.
2. Get a valid prescription that includes the brand and lens dimensions.
3. Buy the lenses from an eye care professional or from a vendor who requires that you provide prescription information for the lenses.
4. Follow directions for cleaning, disinfecting, and wearing the lenses, and visit your eye care professional for follow-up eye exams.