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  • Dr. Sandra Chiu

Your Costume Contact Lenses Might be Haunting You this Halloween

The thrills of enhancing your costume this Halloween is satisfying, but the risk of permanent vision loss is not. Wearing contact lenses you buy over the counter or online may not be as safe as you thought. It is not advisable to wear just any costume contact lenses. If you must wear contact lenses, go for recommended coloured contact lenses approved in Ontario.

All contact lenses, decorative or not, are medical devices regulated by Health Canada. In fact, it is illegal to sell unlicensed contact lenses in Canada. Using a contact lens without the proper oversight from an optometrist poses several risks to your eyes. Find out more about the risks of wearing non-prescription contact lenses and the things you should note about contact lenses below.

What are the risks of using non-prescription contact lenses this Halloween?

If you are considering costume contact lenses this Halloween, understand the potential risks to your vision.

Eye infections

One of the most significant concerns of using non-prescription contact lenses is the risk of eye infections. All contact lenses, be it prescription contact lenses, coloured contact lenses, or costume contact lenses, have the potential of causing serious eye complications. These complications can range from innocuous eye infections to more severe vision-threatening complications like eye ulcers. Bacteria, fungi, parasites and even viruses are common causes of eye infections, and some can cause irreversible vision loss in a matter of 24 hours. These pathogens are commonly found in over-the-counter contact lenses due to poor handling during manufacturing or packaging. If you are experiencing eye infection symptoms, such as redness, itching, burning sensation, extra tears, blurry vision, and so on after using a contact lens, you need to call your doctor immediately.

Blocks oxygen

A contact lens is a piece of plastic that covers the eyes, and as such, can prevent some oxygen from reaching its front surface. But when you wear a contact lens not approved by Health Canada, it might not be made of a breathable materio, thusstarving the eyes of oxygen. Redness, excessive tears, and pain are all signs and symptoms that the eyes are starved for oxygen. To be sure that your contact lenses allow enough oxygen through to your eyes, get a fitting with your optometrist.

Eye allergies

Online or over the counter non-medical contact lenses might be manufactured by unlicensed manufacturers. As such, they tend to make use of inferior plastic and toxic materials when manufacturing contact lenses. Unlicensed manufacturers of contact lenses often make use of lead for example in lens colouring. This lead can easily be absorbed through the eyes into the bloodstream which can cause serious eye irritation. Other cosmetic contact lenses like glow-in-the-dark lizard eyes and blood-drenched vampire eyes can add a spooky, eye-popping touch to your costume, but could be dangerous to the eyes if not produced with standard materials. Additionally, some of these inferior contact lenses are also known to accumulate debris which can cause allergies in some people.

Corneal abrasion

Contact lenses come in different materials, shapes, and sizes. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits all contact lens, don’t be deceived! Using decorative contact lenses that are not a fit for your eyes, can cause corneal abrasions when you insert and remove the lenses. Corneal abrasion is a superficial scratch or scrapes on the cornea. Hence, you must seek the help of an optometrist to determine the right size and type of contact lens for you.

Contact lens-induced acute red eyes (CLARE)

Contact lenses can induce acute red eyes which occur when the eye is starved of oxygen and certain bacteria on the eye’s surface cause an inflammatory reaction. The inflammation occurs as the body reacts to the exotoxin from the bacteria on the surface of the contact lens. If you are experiencing CLARE, remove the contact lenses immediately and have your eyes examined by an optometrist.

Take note of the following if you decide to use costume contact lenses this Halloween

  1. Before using costume contact lenses, go for comprehensive eye exams with your optometrist.

  2. Only use contact lenses that your doctor prescribed as safe for you to wear.

  3. Follow the contact lens cleaning and handling instructions from your eye doctor.

  4. Use the prescription your doctor gave you to purchase it from a trusted vendor. While buying costume contact lenses online is certainly convenient, online retailers of costume contact lenses may be unregulated and may provide you with a lens that is dangerous to wear.

  5. Take note of symptoms that might indicate that your lenses are causing a problem. Light sensitivity, pain, blurred vision, and red eyes are all possible indicators of potentially serious contact lens complications.

Call us today

It is important to always get a prescription from your optometrist before buying contact lenses. Wearing decorative contact lenses without a valid prescription can result in serious harm to your eyes, which can haunt you long after October 31st. Contact us to make an appointment with Dr Sandra Chiu today for an eye exam and contact lens fitting!

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