Optician warns novelty Halloween contact lenses could harm vision

Novel contact lenses advertised on social media before Halloween may not meet appropriate safety standards, according to an optician.

Inexpensive cosmetic lenses – worn to give the appearance of an unnaturally colored iris – can cause infection, conjunctivitis, and blurred vision, Sharon Copeland of Comfortable contacts warned against it.

She tells everyone to dress up on October 31st to make sure they take precautions to protect their eyesight.

“We want Halloween to be a night to remember, but we want it to be a memorable one for all the right reasons and we warn consumers of the dangers of buying unprofessional costume lenses,” said Ms. Copeland.

“Contact lenses are medical devices and should only be bought with an ophthalmic prescription. In fact, it is illegal to buy contact lenses without one.

“Even if you don’t need vision correction, you still need to see an optician to make sure the contact lenses are right for your eyes.”

She added, “We recommend that you visit your ophthalmologist for a check-up before buying your contact lenses, regardless of whether you buy prescription or non-prescription cosmetic lenses.

“It is advisable not to buy them from salons, beauty stores, boutiques, flea markets, novelty stores, Halloween stores, convenience stores, or untrustworthy internet retailers.

“These outlets may not adhere to the same safety standards and regulations as a reputable contact lens dealer.

“Purchasing contact lenses at a non-optical facility can expose your eyes to a long list of eye conditions including, but not limited to, corneal infections, corneal scratches, conjunctivitis, and decreased visual acuity.”

Ms. Copeland’s top tips to stay safe this Halloween:

1. Before you buy your contact lenses, you should consult your ophthalmologist for a check-up. Even if you have good eyesight, you will still need to see an optician to make sure the contact lenses are suitable for your eyes. If appropriate, a prescription will be sent to you with the lens dimensions to help you purchase a suitable lens.

2. Buy the lenses from an optician or a supplier who needs a prescription. It is advisable not to buy lenses from untrustworthy retailers as they may not adhere to the same safety standards and regulations as a reputable contact lens retailer. Well-known brands only carry lenses from manufacturers who adhere to the strictest safety and quality regulations. Remember that contact lenses are medical devices and should only be purchased with an ophthalmic prescription. In fact, it is illegal to buy contact lenses without one.

3. Always put your lenses in before applying your Halloween makeup and take them out before removing your makeup.

4. Don’t share your lenses with anyone. By sharing, you increase the chance of spreading eye diseases and corneal ulcers.

5. Follow the instructions for cleaning, disinfecting, and wearing the lenses (do not use water). Don’t overuse your lenses. If it is a disposable lens, then only wear it for the day and do not exceed the recommended wearing time. If in doubt, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

6. Don’t sleep with your cosmetic lenses on. The lenses will be misaligned, irritate your eyes and, in the worst case, cause permanent damage to your eyes.

7. If you experience redness, itching, swelling, or irritation, remove your lenses immediately. Consult an optician or visit A&E with an eye department and get your eyes treated as soon as possible.

For more information on eye care, see the NHS website.

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