Novelty contacts not recommended by eye care professionals

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Each year, people become increasingly creative when it comes to Halloween costumes, but not all spooky accessories are safe.

Eye-color changing Halloween contacts are often used for zombie and other supernatural costumes. But something more terrifying than the color-altering lenses are the possible side effects. Dr. Renae Welke, at Slingby & Wright Eye Care, says there’s no such thing as a “one size fits all” contact.

“Any contact lens that is not specifically fit to your eye can increase your risk of eye infections - things like corneal scratches, as well as causing decreased vision," Welke says.

And there’s the possibility that the temporary contacts could leave permanent effects. According to a report earlier this month, a teenage girl in Mt. Clemens, Mich. wore a set of novelty contacts she purchased at the mall. After wearing the contacts for four hours she ended up partly blind in her right eye, after four hours of wear-time.

“They don’t allow proper oxygen to get to the eye, and oxygen is necessary for nutrients to get to the eye - as well as the tear film - to be adequately covering the eye on a constant basis,” Welke says. “And so those contacts can interrupt all of those functions.”

Another concern is the legality of the contacts. A lot of the cheaper, over-the-counter Halloween lenses are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, meaning they carry a high level of risk. But for those set on using on the lenses, Welke says there is a safer option.

“I don’t really recommend cosmetic lenses to my patients at all,” Welke says. “But you should be properly fitted and also contain a prescription.”

Once a prescription is obtained, the next step is finding an authorized vendor that requires authorization.

To view other stories like this, visit our Wellness Wednesday page.

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