Dangers of colored contact lenses: Protect your eyes from harm

It may seem fun to use colored contacts to complement the most creative costume or even just for vanity purposes; however, contacts worn for cosmetic purposes pose a threat to your eye health and vision if not properly fitted, even if there is no prescription in the lens. Keep this advice in mind to ensure you don’t damage your eyes while using Halloween or other decorative contact lenses.


Do

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  • remember your health and safety during the Halloween season
  • understand your risks
  • visit your optometrist
  • know the symptoms of an eye issue
Don't

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  • purchase cosmetic lenses from outside vendors
  • think its ok if you only use them once
  • think you don’t need to visit an eye doctor if you don’t need a prescription lens
  • wait to seek treatment

Cindy P. Wang, O.D., F.A.A.O‘s recommendation to ExpertBeacon readers: Do

Do remember your health and safety during the Halloween season

Even though Halloween is one of the main times to use cosmetic lenses, people still use colored contact lenses to enhance their appearance. During Halloween, it is easy to get swept up in the holiday and forget to consider the long term effects. When planning your costume and trick-or-treating, or even just considering contact lenses to change your eye color, always remember to keep safety and health tips in mind.

Do understand your risks

Using a non-prescribed contacts can cause scratches to the cornea, corneal infection, pink eye, decreased vision or even blindness. Always call your optometrist before sticking any contact lenses in your eyes to be sure they are safe for use.

Do visit your optometrist

It is important to visit your optometrist for a contact lens prescription. Eyes can be different shapes and sizes and a poor fit can damage your eye. Plus, your optometrist can prescribe almost any type of contact lenses you would like, including colored contacts.

Do know the symptoms of an eye issue

If you experience itching, redness, burning or discomfort while wearing contacts, remove the lens immediately and seek medical attention. Use preservative-free artificial tears in the eyes until you are able to see an optometrist.


Cindy P. Wang, O.D., F.A.A.O‘s professional advice to ExpertBeacon readers: Don't

Do not purchase cosmetic lenses from outside vendors

The FDA classifies contact lenses as “medical devices,” and they should be prescribed by a doctor of optometry. Vendors that advertise decorative contact lenses as cosmetic products or sell them without a prescription are breaking the law.

Do not think its ok if you only use them once

Using a poorly-fitted contact lens even once can cause severe damage to the cornea, even if you only use them once. Buying decorative contact lenses without a prescription can be extremely dangerous, causing scratches to the cornea, infection, pink eye, and even blindness in severe cases.

Do not think you don’t need to visit an eye doctor if you don’t need a prescription lens

Even if you have perfect vision, you still need an optometrist to fit your contact lenses for you. Your eye needs to be properly measured and ensure that your eye responds well to contacts.

Do not wait to seek treatment

If you are experiencing a reaction from decorative contact lenses seek medical attention immediately. The longer you wait the more severe the reaction could become.


Summary

Contact lenses are prescriptions. It is helpful to think of them as any other prescriptions you take. You wouldn’t by a non-FDA approved drug from a street vendor or fashion website, so do not buy contacts lenses there either. Scare your friends with your spooky contact lenses and enhance your eye color, but see your optometrist first.