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Halloween Hazard: Colored Contact Lens Dangers

by Stephanie 19 October 2013 04:10 AM
Halloween is a popular time for people to use colored contact lenses to enhance their costumes.  From crimson vampire eyes to glow-in-the-dark lenses, costume contact lenses can add a spooky touch to your Halloween attire.  However, few people know the risks associated with these lenses.  Most people believe that decorative contact lenses do not require the same level of care or consideration as a standard contact lens because they can be purchased over the counter or online.  This assumption is far from the truth.

It is, in fact, illegal to sell colored contacts without a prescription in the United States.  All contact lenses are medical devices that require a prescription and proper fitting by an eyecare professional.  Retailers that sell contacts without a prescription are breaking the law, and could be fined up to $11,000 per violation.

Never buy contact lenses, costume or otherwise, from a retailer that does not ask for a prescription.  There is no such thing as a "one-size-fits-all" contact lens, and the lenses offered online or in novelty shops are most likely not approved by the FDA.  Lens that are not properly fit to your eye may scratch the cornea or cause other damage, even if worn only a few hours.  

To safely wear costume contact lenses for Halloween or any time of year, follow these guidelines:
  • Get an eye exam from a licensed eyecare professional who will measure each eye and instruct you regarding proper contact lens care.
  • Obtain a valid prescription that includes the brand name, lens measurements, and expiration date.
  • Purchase the colored contacts from an eye product retailer who asks for a prescription.
  • Never share contacts with another person.
  • Get follow up exams with your eyecare provider.
If you notice redness, swelling, discharge, pain or discomfort from wearing contact lenses, remove the lenses immediately and seek medical attention from your eyecare provider.

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