Halloween costumes can damage your vision

Robin Wulffson MD's picture
Halloween, costumes, decorative contact lenses, vision loss, infection
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Halloween is a major event throughout the US as well as many other regions around the globe.
Individuals ranging in age from toddlers to seniors will go all out to transform themselves into zombies, vampires and other ghoulish characters for Halloween celebrations. They will go to great lengths to make their costumes look as realistic as possible. Some will opt to give their eyes a scary appearance and add decorative contact lenses to their scary transformation. Many are unaware, however, of the potential dangers linked to wearing this costume accessory.

The American Optometric Association (AOA) is warning consumers about the health risks of wearing decorative contact lenses sold illegally, without a prescription from an eye doctor.

Despite the fact that, these items are non-corrective lenses, they still pose the same potential safety and health issues as other contact lenses. They must be fitted and prescribed by an eye doctor. The AOA points to the following risks: bacterial infections; allergic reactions; or even significant damage to the eye’s ability to function, which could lead to irreversible vision loss.

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Earlier this year, the AOA conducted its 2012 American Eye-Q® consumer survey. The survey was created and commissioned in conjunction with Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates (PSB). From May 9 through May 16, 2012, PSB conducted 1,009 online interviews among a representative sample of Americans 18 years of age and older. It found that 18% of Americans wear these non-corrective, decorative, or colored contact lenses. Of those, 28% report illegally purchasing the lenses without a prescription and from a source other than an eye doctor. The AOA notes that consumers need to understand only a proper eye and vision evaluation by a doctor of optometry can determine whether or not they are viable candidates to wear decorative lenses without problems.

The AOA notes that since 2005, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has regulated decorative lenses as medical devices, similar to prescription contact lenses. However, decorative lenses continue to be illegally marketed and distributed directly to consumers through a variety of sources, including flea markets, the Internet, beauty salons, and convenience stores. Consumers also report purchasing them at retail outlets, where they are sold as fashion accessories.

The AOA offers the following recommendations for all contact lens wearers:

  • Wear contact lenses only if they are fitted and prescribed by an optometrist.
  • Do not purchase contact lenses from gas stations, video stores, or any other vendor not authorized by law to dispense contact lenses.
  • Never swim while wearing contact lenses. There is a risk of eye infection when contact lenses come into contact with bacteria in swimming pool water.
  • Make sure contact lenses are properly cleaned and disinfected as instructed by your eye-care professional.
  • Make sure you wash your hands before handling and cleaning your contact lenses.
  • Never swap or share contact lenses with anyone.
  • Never sleep while wearing contact lenses unless they are extended-wear lenses specifically designed for that purpose.

Reference: American Optometric Association

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Comments

It's not illegal, stop lying to your readers. HALLOWEEN CONTACT LENSES ARE NOT ILLEGAL! good grief
According to my source, The American Optometric Association (AOA): "Since since 2005, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has regulated decorative lenses as medical devices, similar to prescription contact lenses. However, decorative lenses continue to be illegally marketed and distributed directly to consumers through a variety of sources, including flea markets, the Internet, beauty salons, and convenience stores."