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How to Find Out if Your Halloween Contact Lenses Are Safe

Illegal Halloween contact lenses
Evgeny Atamanenko/

Are Your Halloween Contact Lenses Illegal?

While spooky contact lenses can complete your Halloween costume, they come with some risks to your vision. Dangerous and illegal costume contact lenses are lurking on store shelves and invading online retailers everywhere. Though the federal government works to keep illegal and harmful versions of decorative or color contact lenses off the shelves, they can still be purchased at costume shops, gas stations, corner stores and online.

Buyer Beware of Illegal Costume Contact Lenses

Here’s an easy way to tell if your lenses are counterfeit: A simple question … Can you purchase them without a prescription? If the answer is yes, those creepy lenses are a danger to your vision.
That’s why Eye Care of Delaware is joining the American Academy of Ophthalmology in urging people to buy decorative contact lenses only from retailers who require a prescription and sell FDA-approved products.

Remember That Contact Lenses Are Medical Devices

“It’s easy to buy these inexpensive contact lenses on impulse, forgetting that they are medical devices, not costume jewelry,” said Thomas L. Steinemann, MD, a clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “We don’t want to ruin your Halloween, just get a prescription first and only buy FDA-approved lenses.”

Contact lenses must be prescribed and fitted by an eye care professional, just like regular contact lenses. A poorly-fitted contact lens can easily scrape the cornea, the outer layer of the eye, making the eye more vulnerable to infection-causing bacteria and viruses. Research shows that people who purchase contacts without a prescription face a 16-fold increased risk of developing an infection.

How to Avoid Painful Contact Lens-Related Eye Infections

  1. See an eye care professional to get a prescription for costume contact lenses. Packaging that claims “one size fits all” or “no need to see an eye doctor” is false. Get properly fitted by an eye doctor.
  2. Buy only FDA-approved products. Buy contacts only from eye care professionals or retailers that require a prescription and sell FDA-approved lenses.
  3. Never share contacts. Sharing contacts can spread germs and bacteria, potentially causing blinding corneal infections and even pink eye. Again, contact lenses not fitted for your eye can cause vision-threatening damage.
  4. Practice good hygiene. It is important to follow directions for cleaning, disinfecting and wearing costume contacts. See an eye care practitioner right away if you notice any swelling, redness, pain or discharge from wearing contacts.
  5. Limit wear of colored contact lenses to four or five hours. The dye and less expensive materials used in costume lenses can restrict oxygen flow to the cornea. Less “breathable” lenses are less healthy for the eye. Never sleep in contact lenses, even if you have a prescription.
  6. Spread the word to others about the dangers of costume contacts. Don’t let friends or family members make the mistake of wearing costume contacts without a prescription. It could cost them their vision.

Get a Prescription For Safe Costume Contact Lenses

Start planning a safe Halloween costume now and make an appointment with your eye doctor to get your costume contact lens prescription. If you suspect your cornea has been damaged by contact lenses, call Eye Care of Delaware at (302) 454-8800 right away or request an appointment online.

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