Halloween contact lenses could cause eye damage

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If you’re looking to add a ghoulish gaze in your eyes, you might want to think twice.

One optometrist is warning that cosmetic contacts used for costumes can lead to permanent eye damage.

“A one-day costume is not worth the risk of a lifetime of vision loss,” says Dr. Rajan Mistry, optometrist at St. Albert Optometrists’ Clinic.

Cosmetic contacts are non-prescription contacts used to alter the look or colour of an individual’s eyes. Mistry says incorrect fitting of the lenses could lead to abrasions or scratches of the cornea.

To prevent damage, he says people who buy the cosmetic lenses should bring it to their optometrist for a proper fitting.

“Different contacts fit on eyes in very different ways. Even if the material is fine, what ends up happening is the edge can sometimes cut into the eye itself. If it’s not a proper fit it could actually cause a lot of damage to the eye.”

He says he sees a lot of patients with corneal abrasions caused by lenses that don’t fit the eye properly, or by lenses that were put in by someone who didn’t know how to properly insert them.

“It usually comes around the time of Halloween when people come in with these issues,” he says.

According to the government of Canada website, lenses can cause allergic reactions, infections and possibly blindness.

In July 2016 manufacturers who sold the contacts were required to get a Class II medical device license. The objective was to stop the sales of contacts made of unregulated materials that could tear in the eye.

These regulations only apply to cosmetic contacts sold in Canada. Those who are purchasing them online are taking a risk that the lenses are made from low-quality material.

Mistry says prescription contacts have gone through rigorous testing to get where they are today.

“The older day lenses were really comfortable for the eyes, but didn’t let enough oxygen through. Some of the newer ones have better oxygen, but aren’t as comfortable, and with the technology today we finally got a blend of the two,” he says.

“But it’s impossible to tell what kind of material that’s come out of the cosmetic world.”

According to the Canadian Association of Optometrists website, those who are wearing Halloween contact lenses should get them properly fitted, and remove the lens immediately if blurred vision, redness, discomfort, swelling or discharge occurs.

While the lenses are regulated, Mistry says he says it’s not a risk worth taking.

“Unfortunately people aren’t coming until something has gone wrong. And again, a one-night costume is not worth a lifetime of blurred vision or eye damage.”

For more information on Halloween safety tips visit: https://opto.ca/health-library/halloween-safety

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Dayla Lahring

Dayla Lahring joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2017. She writes about business, health, general news and features. She also contributes photographs.