It’s almost Halloween and that means candy, costumes… and dangerous contact lenses? Known for their fun patterns, creepy colors, and shocking appearance, non-prescription costume lenses are growing in popularity among young people. But, while these lenses might dramatically transform a Halloween costume, they can also cause serious damage to your eyes—in some cases leading to partial blindness. Read on to learn more about this scary costume trend and discover how non-prescription contacts put your eyes and vision at risk.
Prescription versus non-prescription contact lenses
Prescription contact lenses are medical devices that come in direct contact with the eye. They lay on the surface of the cornea, usually correcting refractive errors and sometimes enhancing eye color or offering UV protection. When eye experts prescribe contact lenses, they take into account an individual’s unique eye profile, delivering a properly fitting, high-quality contact based on a patient’s needs.
However, over-the-counter costume lenses, which require no prescription, are a significant risk to health, vision, and your eyes. Though many consumers may think of them as purely cosmetic accessories, non-prescription lenses have caused several cases of partial blindness and countless infections to date. Although these contacts are illegal to sell, research shows that up to 26% of Americans who purchased non-corrective lenses last year did so without any medical guidance.
Why are non-prescription contact lenses so dangerous?
Despite their availability online and at costume or novelty stores, non-prescription contacts are surprisingly dangerous. In fact, Ophthalmology and Visual Science reports that they carry a 16 times greater risk of infection than their prescribed counterparts.
Because over-the-counter lenses are often produced in non-sterile, non-regulated environments, they can cause serious infections, like keratitis, as well as corneal sores and ulcers. They have even been found to test positive for bacteria typically found in hospital wastewater and spoiled food. In addition to issues of cleanliness, these contacts may fit improperly, use low-quality materials, restrict oxygen to the cornea, scratch the cornea, or even cause allergic reactions.
Keep your eyes safe this holiday
Fortunately, if you want to enhance your eyes for a Halloween costume, there are safe options. Visit your eye expert and ask about prescription colored contacts. Even if you don’t have any refractive errors, a prescription will ensure that you don’t damage your eyes with poorly fitting lenses or harmful materials. Plus, you’ll receive any necessary instructions on how to keep your lenses sanitary, put them on, and safely remove them.
By steering clear of dangerous over-the-counter contacts, you can enjoy the Halloween season while keeping your eyes healthy. For more personalized information or to make an appointment, call us today at 614-939-1600. From all of us here at Columbus Laser & Cataract Center, we wish you a happy Halloween!