There are few things that really tie a costume together like a pair of unnaturally colored contact lenses. Spooky lime green, sickly yellow, blood-curdling red — whatever the color or design, costume contact lenses are a hugely popular Halloween accessory. However, certain groups such as American Academy of Ophthalmology warns that these fun little props can be dangerous.
This is because the lenses themselves are not really a costume accessory, despite what their marketing may suggest. Instead of being a mask or a piece of clothing that can be easily put on or taken off, costume contacts are designed to rest against the wearer’s cornea, which is a very delicate and sensitive organ. So, these contact lenses are actually medical devices, and as such, they must be adjusted to the unique eye shape of the wearer by a trained and trusted medical professional.
This is because, unlike many other costume accessories, one size does not fit all. We tend to think of adults as the same size and shape when it comes to their eyes, but that’s not the case. Even if there is a millimeter difference between the contact lens contact lens and the eye socket, users can experience anything from mild discomfort to corneal lacerations and permanent blindness.
This is why the government took a stand against dangerous costume contact in 2005, making it illegal to buy without a valid prescription. However, casual incidents of injury involving costume contact still occur with alarming frequency, especially in the run up to Halloween.
This is because despite the law, very little is being done to enforce the ban on over-the-counter costume lenses. Costume shops and halloween shops across the country regularly and unabashedly selling dangerous lenses to people without any prescription. Some shops try to limit their liability in this matter by requiring the customer to sign a disclaimer at the time of purchase, but many others give no indication that the lens is anything other than completely safe.
The main danger of this contact is in the design. For them to do anything more than add color to the wearer’s irises, they need to be thicker than the average disposable soft contact lens. This can cause painful scratches on the surface of the eye, or even deep cuts. This possibility is even more likely when contact lenses are used by people who have little or no experience with contacts or how to insert or remove them. Likewise, if contact lenses are not cleaned regularly and thoroughly, they can cause infection in the eye which can quickly lead to blindness.
If you feel like you absolutely have to change your eye color for one reason or another, be sure to do it the smart way. First, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor and see if there’s a possible solution involving the less harmful soft-contacts that so many people enjoy. If your eyes are naturally light, you may find that you don’t need something as drastic as costume contacts to change your eyes to whatever color or hue you want. If you need something heavier, discuss other options with your doctor, and see if they can get lenses through their own line. Having a medical professional show you how to use lenses can be invaluable, and they will also be able to identify potential problems with lenses early on. At the very least, be sure to measure your eye shape and size, test your vision, and issue a prescription, so that if you do have to buy lenses elsewhere, you can be sure to get lenses that fit. that they should.
Dressing up can be fun, but even the best costumes in the world don’t match your eyesight. Before you throw that costume contact in your eyes, consider the risks. You might be better off sticking with your own eye color.