Colored contact lenses are certainly nothing new. Some people wear them to enhance the natural color of their eyes, while others wear them to completely change their eye color from blue to brown, for example. Around this time of year, however, colored contact lenses—and special effects contact lenses made to look like any number of things such as zombies or cat eyes—become popular Halloween costume accessories.
What you need to know is that any contact lenses that promise to make your eyes vampire red or zombie white or any other color may seem like the perfect touch for your costume, but wearing them for even one night of dress-up isn’t worth the risk.
Any contact lenses that you buy over-the-counter or online can—and have, in all too many real cases—causes permanent vision loss or even blindness.
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. Colored or special effects contact lenses that are sold online or over-the-counter without prescriptions are manufactured in bulk. As a result, the chance that they would properly fit your eyes is extremely slim at best. Plus, the chemicals and dyes used in these contact lenses often deprives the eyes of sufficient oxygen they need to be healthy.
For many people who didn’t receive enough warning, the result of wearing these non-prescription lenses has led to raging eye infections, corneal scarring, and even permanent vision loss.
For example: After only a few hours after she put in a pair of colored contact lenses that she’d bought at a souvenir shop, Laura Butler experienced extreme pain in both her eyes. Because the lenses had not been properly fitted by an eye doctor, they 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 only two examples of what kind of 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. Know that any Halloween stores, novelty shops, or 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.
If you do want to try wearing colored contact lenses to enhance or change or eye color, however, see your eye doctor first. He or she can help you do so safely with a prescription for properly-fitting, well-made contact lenses so that you don’t risk permanently damaging your eyes.
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.