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Cosmetic contact lenses – Are they worth the risk?

Spooky season is back and the countdown to Halloween is officially on. If you’re anything like me, you are beyond excited! It’s the one time of the year where you can fully wield that creative bone you swear you don’t have. To look and dress as outlandish as possible and still be considered a part of societal norm? How can you not love it!

Whether you are a mild Halloween lover and simply enjoy dressing as your favourite symbol of pop culture; or love the more sinister element of channelling something horrifying like a vampire, zombie or killer clown. Whatever costume you have in mind, when purchasing all your additional necessities such as your outfits, accessories, wigs, makeup, fake blood and eyes, it is important to consider health and safety in the process.

Here’s a fun fact! Buying unprescribed contacts are not only illegal but terrible for your eye health. Poorly fitted contacts can cause serious damage to the eyes including, conjunctivitis, corneal swelling, allergic reactions and in extreme cases, blindness.

The danger with unprescribed contact lenses are they can cut, scratch or infect your eyes. Despite what the packages may say, contact lenses are not one size fits all. Ill fitting lenses can scrape the outer layer of your eye and cause a cornea abrasion and scarring.

‘The Opticians Act covers the sale of … novelty contacts used to change the colour or appearance of the eyes.’ It protects people from the side-effects of unprescribed, ill-fitting contacts. Under The Opticians Act, cosmetic contacts can only be supplied under the supervision of a registered Optometrist, Dispensing Optician, or Medical Practitioner.

I understand that it’s so much easier to get your Halloween contacts at your local costume shop rather than at your local opticians, especially when you’re shopping last minute (as we do). However, when you consider the possible consequences of poor eye care, I’m sure we can agree that the extra money and effort put into your safety is worth the hassle.

Where to get your Spooky contacts?

Sharon Copeland from Feel Good Contacts urges, ‘anyone eager to dress up on October 31 should ensure they take precautions to protect their vision.’ She emphasises on the importance of visiting an optician to ensure the contact lenses are suitable for your eyes and making a few changes to prevent health issues.

For example:

  • Avoid buying your Halloween contacts at salons, beauty supply stores, boutiques, flea markets, novelty Halloween stores, convenience stores or untrustworthy internet retailers.
  • Do not sleep in your contacts, the lenses will become misaligned and irritate your eyes
  • Follow the directions for cleaning, disinfecting, and wearing the lenses
  • Do not share your lenses with anyone  
  • Always put your lenses in before applying your makeup

Due to the high demand of coloured contacts for costuming; there is a significant increase in eye related injuries during Halloween. Don’t let the scariest part of your Halloween be your eye health. You can dress as spooky as possible, but you know what is truly frightening? Blindness.

Toluwafe Adesile

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