Decorative lenses are often used during the Halloween season to give that spooky costume a little extra flair. Finding the right colored contacts to complement your costume over-the-counter is pretty easy and with the ease of online ordering, you can purchase exactly what you want from any vendor around the world. But is it safe?
The short and sweet answer is no, it’s not.
What most people don’t know is that pop-up Halloween stores and novelty shops are not FDA-approved and any retailer who is selling decorative or colored contact lenses without a prescription is doing so illegally and may be fined up to $16,000 per violation. While the same law may not govern international retailers selling these contacts online, the illegality of doing the same in the United States should be a big warning sign.
Prescription contact lenses are designed to mimic the unique contours of your eye in order to ensure a proper fit. Decorative and colored contact lenses that are sold wholesale are made in bulk and are generally shaped to fit the average eye. The problem is, there’s no such thing as an “average” eye, because everyone’s eyes are different.
Wearing contact lenses that are not measured for your eyes alone may do some serious long term damage to your vision and the eyes themselves. Julian Hamlin, a 17-year-old in South Carolina, required 10 eye surgeries to treat the infections and injuries caused by his non-prescription colored contact lenses and is now legally blind in his left eye. You can read more about his story here.
The risks associated with wearing non-prescription contact lenses, include:
- 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 or sore on the cornea)
- conjunctivitis (pink eye)
- decreased vision
(Source: U.S. Food & Drug Administration)
Anyone who experiences eye redness, eye pain that doesn’t go away after a short period of time, or decreased visit should make an appointment with their ophthalmologist right away. In many cases, irreversible damage can be done within 24 hours if not diagnosed and treated immediately.
The good news is that your eye doctor is more than capable of examining your eyes and writing you a prescription for a safe pair of decorative or colored contact lenses that are FDA-approved and won’t harm your vision. To schedule an appointment with one of our ophthalmologists for contact lens measurements and/or a comprehensive eye exam, contact us online or by calling 865-579-3920.