Once upon a time, getting ready for Halloween night was often a homemade affair: Your parents took old shirts, scarves and other what-nots to turn you into a pirate, a princess or an astronaut.
Today, Halloween costumes have advanced to a whole new level. One of the more popular dress-up items are costume contact lenses, designed to give Halloween celebrants the eerie eyes of imps, ETs or other-worldly beings. But although these decorative lenses can put the “wow” in your costume, potential wearers should exercise caution—they could cause their wearers real-world eye problems.
According to Dr. Todd Williamson, eye surgeon with Hattiesburg Eye Clinic, one of the primary threats posed to the eyes by costume lenses are potential scratches to the cornea, the clear, outer “window” of the eye that allows light to enter. That risk is greatest with general “one-size-fits-all” lenses that haven’t been properly fitted to the individual wearer.
“Not only can corneal abrasions cause a lot of pain, they may also make the eye more susceptible to bacterial infection,” says Dr. Williamson. “The scarring of the cornea that could result from such an infection could be so extensive, the person may need a corneal transplant to restore their sight.”
These risks to your eye health aren’t worth the extra level of spookiness non-prescription costume lenses might provide your Halloween persona. But it may be possible to safely add these decorative lenses to your trick-or-treat outfit if you follow these 4 guidelines to reduce the risk of injury.
Buy only FDA-approved, prescription lenses. It’s not a good idea to buy costume lenses meant for general use. Instead, visit your eye care provider or a costume supply retailer who sells FDA-approved lenses (and only with a prescription).
Don’t share contacts with others. Costume lenses should properly fit your eyes, and are not intended for someone else’s use. Also, sharing lenses with other people could heighten the spread of germs and bacteria that lead to various types of eye infections.
Follow product directions. Besides purchasing only FDA-approved products, you can further reduce your risk of eye problems by following the manufacturer’s directions for cleaning, disinfecting and wearing your lenses. Your eye care provider can also provide additional guidance on how to properly care for your lenses.
Limit the length of costume lens wear time. Even the highest quality costume lenses can restrict the regular flow of oxygen to the cornea. Wearing them for long stretches of time could thus have a detrimental effect on your eye health. To better protect your eyes, wear costume lenses for no more than four or five hours at a time—and never sleep with them in your eyes.
Wearing an out-of-this-world costume that garners rave reviews is a big part of Halloween fun. Be sure, however, in pursuing a Halloween costume to beat all others that you don’t compromise your own eye health.
For more information on eye protection and other vision-related topics, visit our webpage. 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 online.