Be Very Afraid – of Costume Contact Lenses
If you love Halloween, you are probably excitedly making plans for decorations, parties, fun food and drinks, and–best of all–your costume. Many people love to indulge and get creative when it comes to costumes, putting together impressively detailed and elaborate outfits that express their dramatic side for the night. Halloween costumes can be fun, but there’s one thing you should be wary about: using anything potentially harmful in or near your eyes.
Every year, eye doctors see many patients with eye issues caused by Halloween costumes–particularly contact lenses. Contact lenses designed with colors and patterns can really amp up a Halloween costume, but these lenses must be fit and prescribed by an eye doctor. Although they can look very striking, they can also lead to serious eye health problems including infections and loss of vision. If the lenses don’t fit well, aren’t cleaned properly, or aren’t used appropriately, they can stress the eye in dangerous ways.
Costume lenses can be fun and safe but you should avoid the temptation to order them from a cheap costume shop you found online. Costume lenses, just like regular lenses, should be fitted by a professional. The lenses may be thicker than normal, meaning less oxygen can reach the eye. Without an adequate supply of oxygen, the eye is vulnerable to issues such as cell death and infection. If your contact lenses don’t fit well, they can scrape the cornea, putting you at higher risk for infection from viruses or bacteria. In extreme cases, people with damaged corneas will need corneal transplants and may still experience vision loss.
How to Use Costume Lenses Safely
If you have your heart set on wearing costume lenses this Halloween (or anytime), you don’t have to give it up–just be sure to take the following steps to ensure you are wearing them safely and protecting your eyes.
- Avoid gas stations and costume shops when buying lenses. If a pair of lenses claims to be “one size fits all”, they may not be safe to wear. Be sure to buy FDA-approved lenses with a prescription. There are many neat designs available, such as those with flames, white-out pupils, or little black cats on the lens–perfect for Halloween.
- Don’t share contact lenses. You may be tempted to wear the awesome lenses your friend wore last year, but don’t do it. Sharing contacts puts you at very high risk for eye infections.
- Follow instructions carefully. Costume lenses must be cared for just like traditional lenses, so be sure to follow instructions such as proper cleaning and avoiding leaving the lenses in overnight.
Other Halloween Eye Risks
Costume lenses aren’t the only way we put our eyes in danger this time of year. Fog machines, found in many haunted houses, can cause eye irritation along with other symptoms such as throat irritation and issues for people with asthma. False eyelashes also present a risk: some people have had bad reactions to the glue used to attach them, and they can also harbor germs that can lead to infection.
Another problem eye doctors see around Halloween is eye injuries due to roughhousing or not being careful while playing with items such as toy lightsabers, pirate swords, and other costume gear. Haunted trails also present dangers such as hidden haystacks, tree branches, and dark shapes that, when walked into, can injure the eyes.
Take care to protect your eyes this Halloween— make sure monsters, goblins, and zombies are the only scary thing about your night!