Contact Lenses Could Turn Halloween into Health Crisis

Every Halloween, I see ads for crazy-looking contact lenses that transform human eyes into cat eyes or other eerie designs.

Blood-red irises, ice-white spirals, green cat-like eyes: these and more are available options from companies that will sell specialty contact lenses just in time for Halloween.

If your friends can stand to stare into your gaze as you wear them (and even if they can’t), you could be the hit of your neighborhood Halloween party.

But physicians warn you could also face serious eye damage, infection and even possible blindness from using the specialty lenses if they don’t come from a medical professional.

That would be enough to make me avoid them. But I have a very good second reason, too: I have a phobia about anything touching my eye, so contact lenses are out of the question for me, anyway.

Years ago, it was explained to me that I could use colored contacts — not the freakish variety offered at Halloween, but just the regular, color-shifting type — to turn my hazel eyes into a nice blue or green. I thought about it for a few moments. I’d always wanted blue eyes, after all.

But then it occurred to me that I’d be placing little things that looked like pieces of Saran Wrap on my cornea and the appeal quickly went away.

Unfortunately, plenty of people have no such fear, and when this time of year rolls around, just to look cool, they’re willing to put their vision at risk.

The Food and Drug Administration issued a warning for consumers about the dangers of these decorative contact lenses, pointing out that contacts are not cosmetics but medical devices and stating that “places that advertise them as cosmetics or sell them over-the-counter, without a prescription, are breaking the law.”

Using contact lenses not prescribed by an eye doctor can cause a variety of problems, 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 or sore on the cornea)
  • conjunctivitis (pink eye)
  • decreased vision
  • blindness

Blindness can result in as little as 24 hours if caused by a corneal ulcer not promptly diagnosed and treated, FDA optometrist Dr. Bernard Lepri said.

Read more about the issues and find more resources on the FDA’s website here.

As for Halloween, focus on the costume and makeup: leave your eyes alone.

Your vision could depend on it.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 27 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.