5 Risks of Wearing Halloween Costume Contacts

To avoid a real-life Halloween horror story, the American Academy of Ophthalmology is warning the public against wearing costume contact lenses purchased without a prescription. These illegally sold cosmetic lenses may not be sterile and can cause a host of serious eye problems:

  1. Scratches to the eye– If contacts are not professionally fitted to your eye, they can scratch the clear front window of the eye. This is called a corneal abrasion, which is not only painful, but can cause permanent damage. Just ask Laura Butler, who was in severe pain due to corneal abrasions 10 hours after putting in non-prescription lenses, which “stuck to my eye like suction cups.” Treatment often involves medication and patching, but in some cases damage cannot be reversed. Butler now lives with a corneal scar, vision damage and a drooping eyelid.
  2. Infection – Research shows wearing non-prescription contacts increases the risk of an infection called keratitis by 16 times. Early treatment with antibiotic or steroid drops may preserve vision, but sometimes surgery, such as corneal transplantation, is necessary. Robyn Rouse had to have that surgery after she got an infection after wearing non-prescription lenses she bought at a local store. Twelve years later, she still has blurry vision in her left eye and uses daily drops to combat dry eye.
  3. Pink eye – Never share contacts because doing so can spread germs, causing conditions such as pink eye. Highly contagious, pink eye treatment depends on the cause, but typically includes antibiotic drops.
  4. Decreased vision – Whether from a corneal scratch or infection, wearing non-prescription contacts can lead to decreased vision.
  5. Blindness – It’s no scare tactic: wearing non-prescription contacts can lead to permanent vision loss. Julian Hamlin has had more than 10 surgeries and is now legally blind in his left eye after wearing contacts to change his eye color, a mistake he’ll live with forever.

Article Credit: American Academy of Ophthalmology: https://www.aao.org/newsroom/news-releases/detail/risks-of-contact-lenses-without-prescriptions

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