How to protect your eyes this halloween
It’s almost Halloween, and adults and children alike are getting creative and putting together costumes to celebrate this annual occasion to dress up and have fun. From the ghoulish and ghastly to the spooky and scary, every year sees even more inventiveness as people all over the country compete to create the best outfit. For years, people have played with costumes and facepaints to create their look, but in recent years a new trend has emerged – novelty contact lenses. The use of such items has seen an increase as a result of the popularity of supernatural characters in film and television, one such example being Pennywise the yellow eyed clown, star of the recently released It 2. Although coloured contact lenses can add a unique and impressive finish to your character, they can also represent a real danger to your eyes and should be used with extreme caution. Read on to learn more.
What are novelty contact lenses?
Novelty contact lenses are special, non-prescription contact lenses that are being increasingly used by teenagers and adults to add a special touch to a costume. Popular halloween contact lenses now available include white out and black out effects, owls, cats and bats to name a few, pumpkins, vampire eyes and more. They are often marketed as a simple and fun way to temporarily enhance your appearance – but the dangers are far greater than many people realise.
Why can novelty contact lenses be dangerous?
In general contact lenses are fairly safe – but it is important to remember that contact lenses should only be issued under prescription by an authorised optometrist, who is also fully qualified to give patients the correct advice on how to wear and remove them correctly, as well as how to look after both the contact lenses and your eyes.
With the large number of novelty contact lenses available online, there is a high risk of safety being neglected. Vicky McDermott, Chief Executive of the General Optical Council (GOC), Britain’s regulator for opticians and optometrists, says “when worn safely, the risks associated with cosmetic contact lenses are low. However, when lenses are sold illegally, wearers are denied important safety checks and advice, putting them at risk of serious damage to their eye.”
What are the risks?
Although in most cases the risks are minimal, there are reports every year of people experiencing problems as a result of novelty contact lenses, and this includes an increase in admissions to accident and emergency, especially for under 16’s.
In more severe cases, the dangers of wearing novelty 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
It should be noted that the problem is not usually with the lenses themselves, but rather their improper use by individuals who have not received appropriate guidance for their safe use.
“Not knowing the basics of using contact lenses safely can put you at higher risk of developing painful eye injuries and in the worst cases, risk of permanent sight loss,” says Badrul Hussain, ophthalmic surgeon at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London.
The advice of professionals is to seriously consider whether or not you really do need to wear novelty contact lenses this halloween. If you do still wish to use them, ensure that you obtain them from an authorised outlet such as your optician.
Here at Sergeant & Barber Opticians in Lowestoft, we are happy to advise our customers on every aspect of eye care. For a friendly and personal chat with one of our experts, drop in today or call us on 01502 568241 to book an appointment now.
To book an eye examination today or to speak to a member of our team about any eye care questions you may have, give us a call today on 01502 568241.