This upcoming Halloween night, millions of children around the world will suddenly transform into all manner of fantastic creatures. The streets will teem with pirates, tigers, princesses, wizards, and other imaginary beings, intent on amassing as many treats as possible.
With any number of costuming choices and techniques—and a little imagination—any kid can become whoever they want, at least for a night.
If you’re not careful, though, your child’s Halloween costume could pose risks to their eye health.
Hattiesburg Eye Clinic ophthalmologist Ben Pace says, “Fibers, particles from costumes or masks can easily get under the eyelids and cause irritation or worse, a corneal abrasion.” Corneal abrasions occur when the cornea is scratched and this is often caused by rubbing the eyes when something foreign is under the eyelids. This also may cause an infection which can take a long time to heal and can severely effect vision. And Dr. Pace cautions, “Being struck in the eye with costume prop swords or nerf darts can cause more significant injuries like hyphemas (bleeding inside the eye).”
Fortunately, you can help your child avoid eye injury, if you know the potential areas of risk associated with Halloween costuming. In recognition of Halloween Safety Month, here’s what you need to know to dress up your child safely for All Hallow’s Eve.
Makeup. Today’s trick-or-treaters are increasingly using theatrical or costume makeup to create their Halloween persona. But some types of makeup, particularly those with preservatives like parabens and benzalkonium, can irritate the skin and eyes. Try to avoid makeup with known irritants, and limit their use as much as possible around the eyes.
Glitter. The reflective effect of glitter makes it a desirable addition to costuming. But bits of glitter applied near the eyes or on the eyelids could make its way into an eye and potentially scratch the cornea and other surfaces. Dr. Pace says, “Care should be taken with application of any makeup or glitter near the eyelid area. Avoid glitter on the upper face near the eyes as much as possible. And, avoid rubbing your eyes and take care to avoid any foreign material under the eyelids.”
Props. What’s a fairy godmother without her magic wand—or Luke Skywalker without his light saber? But although props like these often complete a costume, those that have rigid, pointed ends can cause significant damage if accidentally jabbed into the eyes. Dr. Pace says, “Plastic swords, wands, and nerf darts can cause serious injury to the eye if swung forcefully or fired from close range.” He urges parents to discuss proper eye safety with their children and be aware that injuries can occur if misused.
Masks. Boxed Halloween costumes with plastic face masks continue to be a popular choice among youngsters. One drawback to the masks, though, is that they often reduce a wearer’s field of vision, which can make trips, falls or collisions more likely. Although eye damage might not necessarily occur, bruises or worse are still on the table.
Costume lenses. Although a hot item at Halloween, the wrong type of costume contact lens wrongly applied could cause significant eye irritation and damage. Dr. Pace says he has treated severe corneal abrasions from costume contact lenses because they are often used by people not accustomed to wearing contacts. In his words, “One of the worst corneal abrasions I treated was caused by an old pair of costume contacts saved from previous years and used again after putting in contact solution. Both corneas had large corneal abrasions and the patient was in significant pain for several days. The use of costume contact lenses is not recommended without a proper contact lens fitting with your local eye doctor, and never use old contacts or expired contact lens solution.”
When the trick-or-treating is over, the only things your child should take away from the experience are a bag full of goodies and a lot of fond memories. Follow these guidelines to avoid eye problems that could last for years.
Visit our website to learn more about eye health and safety. To learn more about how Hattiesburg Eye Clinic can improve your vision health, call 601-268-5910 (or toll-free 800-624-8254) or schedule a consultation with us at www.hattiesburgeyeclinic.com/contact-us/