When the Real Horror Comes After Halloween

You’ve figured out the perfect costume for Halloween and found some decorative contact lenses at the drug store that take your outfit to the next level, what could go wrong? Unfortunately, quite a bit.

Contact lenses are classified as a medical device and therefore in order to sell ANY contact lenses, whether they contain a prescription or not, vendors are required to consult with your eye care provider to verify the fit before you purchase them. Any vendor, whether they are online or within a store, that are selling contact lenses without verifying the prescription are doing so illegally. Many times these contact lenses are also not FDA approved and may cause irreversible damage to your eyes.

I’m sure many of y’all have heard several terrifying stories of patients losing vision due to misusing contact lenses; while it may seem harmless to purchase them over-the-counter without being fit for that particular lens, you have to remember that contact lenses are a medical device that sit right on top of your corneas (which is the clear front layer of the eye). Think about how terrible your eye feels when you get something in it, even just a simple eyelash, stuck in your eye. Our bodies natural defense system instinctively turns on: our eye progressively becomes redder, more irritated, and of course creates several tears to try to remove the causative factor. This is how our cornea reacts to any foreign body. Now imagine placing a contact lens that has not gone through rigorous FDA testing, may contain harmful chemicals, and can slide around in your eye because it doesn’t fit well – not exactly a smart idea, even if it is just for a couple hours. These chemicals that help provide the desired design as well as the material of the contact lens itself can create a toxic reaction with the cornea. The corneal ulcers or diffuse keratitis that may result can ultimately cause scarring on the front layer of the eye leading to permanently decreased vision.

As much as eye care professionals love removing contact lenses that feel as though they’ve melded to your corneas (read – we do not love doing this), we MUCH rather you comply with the following guidelines to ensure safety when using contact lenses.

  1. In order to wear any type of contact lens you should be getting a regular eye exam including a contact lens fitting regardless of whether or not you need correction in the lenses.
  2. Follow the instructions for cleaning and caring for your contact lenses set out by an eye care professional and make you sure you are switching them out as directed.
  3. Ensure that you are buying the contact lenses from a reputable source. If they are not verifying the contact lens prescription given to you by an eye care provider, you shouldn’t purchase your lenses from that vendor
  4. Never share contact lenses with your friends – it may seem like a cool idea to try on your pals colored contact lenses to see how they look in your eyes, but this is a bad idea. It’s similar to pulling their used bandage off their wound and putting it on yours; simply put, it’s gross!
  5. Unless explicitly told you may do so by an eye care provider, do not sleep in your contact lenses.
  6. If you notice any problems or discomfort (redness, irritation, pain, swelling, etc) with your eye(s) with or without the contact lenses PLEASE visit an eye care professional as soon as possible!

Sight is arguably the most important of the five senses – the benefits of having your eyes look like a zombie or cat for one night will never be worth the risk of losing even a little bit of your vision.

Call us today to make an appointment so we can fit you in some medically approved color contact lenses just in time for Halloween! If you are unsure about the safety of using any contact lenses, please come into any of our offices so we appropriately evaluate the lenses – we will be happy to help!

By Priya Sheth, OD