Consider the Risks of Novelty Contact Lenses This Halloween
It’s that time of year again – the nights are drawing in, there’s a chill in the air, and everyone is preparing for the spookiest night in the calendar. But if you’re planning on dusting off the trusty old vampire cape or cat ears for Halloween this year, it might be a good idea to rethink the novelty contact lenses.
It is now possible to buy non-prescription, novelty lenses in almost all colours and styles imaginable. From werewolves and vampires to demons, cats – and everything in between! – there is certainly a pair of lenses to match your outfit. And, to be completely honest, novelty contact lenses can be incredibly effective at taking a Halloween fancy dress costume from simply appropriate to outright showstopping. But are they safe for our eyes?
The Well-Known Risks of Contact Lenses
The risks associated with the regular or improper use of prescription contact lenses are well documented. According to a recent study into the associated risks of complications of contact lenses, these tiny plastic discs can be linked to microbial keratitis (MK), corneal infections, pain and discomfort and, in rare cases, even vision loss. And that’s just prescription lenses! So, what about the funny, colourful lenses you can buy online?
Novelty lenses could come back to haunt you
A survey conducted by The College of Optometrists showed that 63% of us consider wearing cosmetic lenses this Halloween. But less than a third would buy their novelty lenses from an optometrist.
This may not be surprising, considering the endless number of online retailers offering a cheap and convenient way to purchase the perfect vampire eyes to complete your Halloween costume. But most people don’t realise that it is illegal to sell contact lenses (even novelty ones) in the UK without the supervision of a registered optometrist, dispensing optician or doctor. So, those cheap, fun lenses are most likely not produced to the same safety standards as those sold by your optometrist.
Unlike prescription lenses, most novelty lenses have not been tailored to fit your eyes. This can increase the risk of complications such as infection and corneal scratches.
Nonetheless, novelty contact lenses continue to draw in big business for these companies – especially around Halloween. Most can get away with their dodgy dealings due to being based overseas. That’s why it is important that as much information is given to the public as possible regarding the potential risks of sprucing up their costume with novelty lenses.
Some tips for choosing the “right” novelty lenses
In most cases, it is not recommended that you wear novelty lenses; however, if you simply cannot do without them, there are some tips that you can follow to do so more safely:
Seek advice from a professional
As we mentioned, it is illegal to sell contact lenses in the UK in the absence of a registered eye care professional. Therefore, it is recommended that you always purchase contact lenses from a qualified professional who can give you appropriate advice on your products.
Never re-wear your novelty contacts
You might have been lucky enough to have been invited to two parties this Halloween and, if this is the case, you may be tempted to recycle your outfit. But don’t be tempted to re-wear your lenses. Most novelty lenses are designed for just one use so re-wearing them can increase your risk of complications. Oh, and don’t forget to take your lenses out before you go to bed!
Check the packaging
Packaging can tell you a lot about the quality of your chosen novelty lenses. Check for a ‘CE’ mark, which indicates that the product conforms to medical device regulations. It is also important to never use contact lenses that have passed their expiry date.
At the end of the day, contact lenses are medical devices and need to be made to strict safety regulations. Novelty lenses may be fun and effective, but are they really worth risking your vision for?