We are advising people against wearing novelty cosmetic contact lenses this Halloween, unless they have been supplied by an optometrist.
Adding an extra scary touch in the form of novelty contact lenses to a Halloween costume might look great, but every year lots of people may unknowingly put the health of their eyes at risk by wearing these potentially dangerous accessories.
Most people are also unaware that it is illegal to purchase contact lenses – including non-prescription novelty and coloured lenses – unless they are supplied by a registered health professional, such as your optometrist.
There are very good reasons for this. Dr Paramdeep Bilkhu is a Clinical Adviser at The College of Optometrists, the professional body for optometry in the UK. He explains:
“Contact lenses need to be fitted by an eye care professional to ensure they provide you with clear and comfortable vision, while ensuring you are able apply and remove them safely and can care for the lenses appropriately. This means that anyone wanting wear novelty contact lenses should contact their local optical practice to arrange a contact lens consultation. This enables the optometrist to confirm that your eyes are healthy and take a series of special measurements, ensuring the best possible fit of the lenses.
“Costume lenses are often purchased on the internet, and in most cases by people who are not regular contact lens wearers. Not only do they not know whether the product is safe to put in their eyes, but they are also less likely to know how to handle and care for them properly.
“These lenses may be made of poor quality or unsuitable materials, are not made to measure, and can result in damage to the eyes including infections, which have the potential to cause sight loss.
“In addition, the centre of costume lenses may not line up properly with the wearer’s pupil, if not fitted correctly, making them less able to see. This can be extremely dangerous, particularly if they plan to drive while wearing them.”
The College of Optometrists advises people thinking of purchasing any type of contact lens, to only do so from their local optical practice.
“We want everyone to enjoy their Halloween parties safely, and not put the health of their eyes at risk for the sake of looking scary. Anyone thinking of wearing novelty lenses should visit their local optometrist for advice.”