Dressing up for Halloween? Steer clear of cheap contact lenses
Trick-or-treaters plan to hit the streets in most parts of New Jersey this Halloween with costumes and masks, of course. Dr. Joseph Calderone, of Better Vision New Jersey in Cranford, said people should think twice about reaching for a pair of wild and scary contact lenses.
The Food and Drug Administration considers any contact lens, with or without prescriptive powers, a medical device. That means it is illegal to get these lenses without a prescription from an eye doctor.
Before people beg for a prescription, the doctor giving the prescription needs to know whether the lens fits properly. That means the wearer needs to be seen by a doctor, which would be short notice by Saturday.
According to The American Optometric Association, during past Halloween seasons, up to 26% of Americans who purchased non-corrective contact lenses were able to get them without a prescription. This opened them up to risks of all sorts of eye problems especially infection, which can be painful and threaten vision loss.
The Journal of Ophthalmology and Visual Science found that those people who purchased non-prescribed contact lenses were 16 times more likely to get an infection than those who obtained lenses by getting a prescription first.
Calderone said if contact lenses are not cleaned properly, it's like putting a sheet of plastic into the eye, digging into the surface of the cornea.
Contact lenses can also be damaged, especially these cheap non-prescription ones. A simple tear in the lens resembles, under the microscope, a carpenter's wood-shaving plane, which acts much the same way on the surface of the eye.
Halloween eye makeup is a no-no, too. Calderone said there is a difference in quality when buying eye makeup from a beauty brand compared to the cheap stuff at party stores. The costume eye makeups can come off in clumps and get into the eyes, causing friction and irritation.