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Posted on 10-03-2017

October is here, and that means Halloween is right around the corner.  It's time for tricks, treats, and spooky costumes.  You may be thinking, what better way to enhance my Halloween look than with some awesome colored or special effect contact lenses?  While that is a fabulous idea, there are still steps you need to take, even if you don't need vision correction.

October is Halloween Eye Safety Month. Did you know that the FDA classifies contact lenses - any type of contact lenses - as a medical device?  Therefore, U.S. law dictates that you must have a prescription from a licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist in order to purchase contacts, even colored or costume lenses.  The FDA regulates the safety and effectiveness of all contact lenses, not just ones that correct your vision.  

Right now you're probably asking yourself, what's the big deal?  Why does it matter, if the lenses are just to change my eye color and won't affect my vision at all?  Well, the truth is, it can be extremely dangerous.  Wearing contacts, any kind, can cause damage if they are obtained without a prescription or used incorrectly.  You may be able to find these lenses over-the-counter, in beauty salons or Halloween shops, or on the Internet, but those lenses are being sold illegally and have not cleared any kind of FDA inspections.

Often times, the lenses you purchase without a prescription may not be sterile.  Furthermore, contact lenses are not a "one size fits all" device, regardless of whether or not you need vision correction.  Lenses that are not fitting properly can can scratch your cornea.  Corneal scratches or abrasions can lead to infections, and, if not treated properly, can cause permanent scarring and/or vision loss. Other risks include conjunctivitis (pink eye) and allergic reactions.

So, how can you avoid this real-life Halloween horror?  Easy!  

  • Get an eye exam from a licensed eye care professional.  They will fit you for contact lenses and ensure a proper fit.  The fit is important!
  • Get a valid prescription for lenses, even cosmetic ones.  The prescription should include the brand name, measurements, and expiration date.
  • Follow the contact lens care instructions.  Make sure you wear, clean, and store the lenses according to your doctor's instructions.
  • Seek medical attention immediately if you have any redness, pain, or discharge with the lenses.  These could be signs of infection.
  • Do NOT buy contact lenses without a prescription or from any vendor that does not require one.  If they do not require a prescription, they are selling you the contacts illegally!

Following these simple steps will ensure that you not only have a fun Halloween, but a safe one too. Happy haunting!

Sources:

www.aao.org, www.fda.gov

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