Skip the Spooky Eyes for Halloween

The AAO warns that wearing non prescription contact lenses can cause serious eye damage

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) As you plan this year's Halloween costume, you may want to leave out one accessory - the pair of non-prescription contact lenses.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), wearing non-prescription contact lenses can cause serious eye damage, including keratitis - inflammation of the cornea - and may even lead to permanent vision loss.

The AAO noted that places like costume shops and party stores are not licensed to sell contact lenses so purchasing lenses from these retailers can be dangerous. They say the safest bet is to skip the non-prescription lenses altogether.

"Do not wear non-prescription contact lenses."

While the AAO warns of the dangers of wearing non-prescription contact lenses and recommends against wearing them, for those people who choose to wear them anyway, they suggest taking the following steps:

  • Only buy non-prescription contact lenses from an eye care professional such as an ophthalmologist or a retailer that requires a prescription and sells FDA-approved products.
  • If you don't already have a contact lens prescription, get a valid prescription and eye exam from an ophthalmologist or optometrist who can provide guidance and instruction on proper handling and cleaning of contact lenses.
  • Follow the directions for cleaning, disinfecting and wearing the lenses. If contacts are not properly cleaned or left in for too long, the risk for an eye infection can increase considerably.
  • Do not share contact lenses with another person or wear contact lenses that have expired.
  • If you notice redness, swelling, excessive discharge, pain or discomfort from wearing contact lenses, remove them and seek immediate medical attention from an ophthalmologist. Eye infections like keratitis can quickly become serious and cause blindness if left untreated.

Aside from non-prescription contact lenses, there are also eye hazards for children during Halloween, like using eye makeup and using pointy objects like swords, with costumes.

When it comes to eye makeup, The Children's Hospital in Los Angeles (CHLA) recommends only using makeup approved by the FDA on the face or around the eyes. To remove makeup, they suggest using cold cream instead of soap and water. If makeup gets into the eye, the FDA suggests rinsing it with cool water by having children tilt their head back while water is poured into the eye.

When it comes to using pointy objects as props or parts of the costume, the CHLA recommends avoiding them if possible. If kids insist on wearing them, however, they suggest that parents only purchase objects made out of soft or flexible material and to use a belt carrier or a protective case.

"I had several patients who sustained significant and permanent vision loss from wearing non-prescription contact lenses and then developed complications. Contact lenses need to be carefully fit to the individual wearer and indiscriminate use of non-prescription contacts lenses as part of a costume is short-sighted and potentially dangerous," Christopher Quinn, OD, optometrist at Omni Eye Services, told dailyRx News.

For more information on eye injury prevention, visit the American Academy of Ophthalmology's website.

Review Date: 
October 4, 2013
Last Updated:
October 8, 2013