Wearing Decorative Contact Lenses Can Be the Scariest Part of Halloween

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Lady Gaga in a still from Bad Romance

Caption: Lady Gaga in Still from "Bad Romance"

Halloween is right around the corner. You may be tempted to try out those "cool" decorative contact lenses that Lady Gaga wore in the "Bad Romance" video a few years ago. Maureen Duffy wrote about the dangers of these lenses in a post last fall. Vampire eyes or other cosmetic effects using contact lens may be very dangerous to your eyes.

Here's what the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has to say about them:

  • "They are not cosmetics or over-the-counter merchandise. They are medical devices regulated by the FDA. Places that advertise them as cosmetics or sell them without a prescription are breaking the law.
  • They are not 'one size fits all.' An eye doctor (ophthalmologist or optometrist) must measure each eye to properly fit the lenses and evaluate how your eye responds to contact lens wear. A poor fit can cause serious eye damage, including scratches on the cornea (the clear dome of tissue over the iris — the part of the eye that gives you your eye color); corneal infection (an ulcer on the cornea); conjunctivitis (pink eye); decreased vision; and blindness
  • Places that sell decorative lenses without a prescription may give you few or no instructions on how to clean and care for your lenses.
  • Failure to use the proper solution to keep contact lenses clean and moist can lead to infections, says Bernard Lepri, O.D., M.S., M.Ed., an optometrist at FDA. 'Bacterial infections can be extremely rapid, result in corneal ulcers, and cause blindness—sometimes within as little as 24 hours if not diagnosed and treated promptly...The problem isn’t with the decorative contacts themselves... It’s the way people use them improperly—without a valid prescription, without the involvement of a qualified eye care professional, or without appropriate follow-up care.'"

Watch this informative video: "Improper Use of Decorative Contact Lenses May Haunt You"

Buying Decorative Contact Lens Safely

The American Academy of Ophthalmology has established guidelines for safely wearing costume contact lenses:

  • Get an eye exam from a licensed eye care professional who will measure each eye and talk to you about proper contact lens care.
  • Obtain a valid prescription that includes the brand name, lens measurements, and expiration date.
  • Purchase the colored contact lenses from an eye product retailer who asks for a prescription.
  • Follow the contact lens care directions for cleaning, disinfecting, and wearing the lenses.
  • Never share contact lenses with another person.
  • Get follow up exams with your eye care provider.
  • If you notice redness, swelling, excessive discharge, pain or discomfort from wearing contact lenses, remove the lenses and seek immediate medical attention from an ophthalmologist.
infographic of mummy with message to get a comprehensive dilated eye exam before you get wrapped up in Halloween fun this year. Provided by NEI, NEHEP: www.nei.nih.gov/healthyeyes

Other Resources

Experiencing the Magic of Eye Makeup While Practicing Eye Safety

Eye Injury Prevention at Halloween: Lady Gaga and Cosmetic Contact Lenses


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