If you’re tempted to try non-prescription contact lenses to make your Halloween costume look extra cool or creepy, you might want to think again. Any of those contact lenses that promise to make your eyes vampire red or zombie white and any color in between may seem like the final touch for your perfect costume, but wearing them for a night of dress-up isn’t worth the risk.
For that matter, wearing non-prescription contacts to enhance or alter your eye color any time of the year is too much of a risk to take for the health of your eyes. The American Association of Ophthalmology reports, “Wearing contacts without an exam and prescription from a doctor can blind you. Packaging that claims ‘one size fits all’ or ‘no need to see an eye doctor’ is wrong.”
Prescription contact lenses are designed to properly fit the unique contours of your eye. Decorative and colored contact lenses that are sold without prescriptions are manufactured in bulk and the chance that they would properly fit your eyes is extremely slim at best. The result of wearing these non-prescription lenses ranges from eye infections to permanent vision loss.
Case in point: Laura Butler, of West Virginia, experienced extreme pain in both eyes a few hours after she put in a pair of colored contact lenses that she’d bought at a souvenir shop. Because she had not been properly fitted by an eye care professional, the lenses stuck to her eyes like a suction cup. Laura was on medication for four weeks and couldn’t see well enough to drive for eight weeks. Because of the non-prescription contacts, she now lives with a corneal scar, vision damage, and a drooping eyelid.
In another case, Julian Hamlin, a 17-year-old from South Carolina, required 10 eye surgeries to treat the infections and injuries caused by the $20 colored contact lenses he bought at a gas station, no prescription required. He is now legally blind in his left eye.
Laura and Julian are just two examples of the damage non-prescription contact lenses can cause. For reasons like these, it’s illegal in the U.S. to sell any contact lenses without a prescription from an eye care professional. The Halloween stores, novelty shops, and online websites that sell decorative or colored contact lenses without prescriptions are doing so illegally and may be fined up to $16,000 per violation.
For the sake of your health and vision, don’t take the risk of wearing non-prescription contact lenses for any amount of time. The potential damage to your eyes is too great.
In addition, be aware that everyday prescription contact lenses can also cause eye infections if they’re not used and maintained properly. If you’ve been wearing contact lenses and experience any symptoms of a possible eye infection—like redness, pain, irritation, tearing, or sensitivity— don’t delay seeking treatment from an ophthalmologist who can quickly diagnose and treat the infection before more serious damage occurs.
Baptist Eye Surgeons is an ophthalmological practice in Knoxville, TN, and Morristown, TN, dedicated to providing quality eye care to patients whose needs range from routine comprehensive eye examinations to complex eye surgeries. To meet our doctors and learn more about our specialities, visit our website or give us a call at 865-579-3920 for more information or to schedule an appointment.