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Contact lenses for Halloween costumes are a no-no

SH99J422FRIGHTEYES Oct. 28 1999 Ñ Hypnoticcan give your Halloween costume an eery look. Cosmetic contact lenses are definitely creepy sight.

SH99J422FRIGHTEYES Oct. 28, 1999 Ñ Hypnotica can give your Halloween costume an eery look. Cosmetic contact lenses are definitely a creepy sight. (SHNS photo by John Stubler / Redding Record Searchlight)

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Updated: April 14, 2014 4:48PM

Every year, hundreds of adults and children are treated in emergency rooms because of eye injuries related to Halloween. A trip to the emergency room can be avoided in several ways.

Costumes can increase the risk of injury. Avoid costumes with masks, wigs, or eye patches that impede or block vision. If you or your child is wearing a hat or scarf, be sure to tie it securely so it doesn’t slip over the eyes. Do not drive or operate machinery while wearing a mask or a wig that could slip and block your vision.

Be sure any props that accompany your child’s costume, such as spears, swords, or wands, aren’t pointed and do not have sharp edges that could endanger other children’s eyes.

When using makeup or face paint, be sure that it is hypoallergenic to avoid any undue reaction around your eyes. Avoid dyeing your eyebrows and eyelashes.

The biggest eye safety hazard on Halloween is the use of cosmetic contact lenses. Although it’s illegal to sell cosmetic contacts without a prescription from a licensed medical doctor, they still show up in shops and online.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology warns against their use because they are often manufactured without meeting federal health and safety standards.

“They have a 15-fold increase in infection, according to some studies, which could lead to permanent vision loss,” said Dr. Kurt Heitman. “They can also cause corneal abrasions or scratches on the cornea. Since they are thicker and often have paint on them, they cause decreased oxygen to the cornea, which can also be harmful.”

Contact lenses are classified as medical devices and therefore can only be distributed by licensed eye care professionals, said Heitman.

If you choose to use contact lenses as part of your costume, only purchase FDA-approved lenses from an ophthalmologist or vendor that requires a prescription. Each eye is unique, and prescriptions are tailored to fit each eye properly.

If you experience eye redness, pain, discharge, irritation, or loss of vision following use of cosmetic contact lenses, immediately seek medical attention.

“What happens to people’s eyes after just one evening of wearing non-prescription costume contact lenses is tragic,” said Dr. Thomas Steinemann, professor of ophthalmology at Case Western Reserve in Cleveland. “I understand how tempting it is to dress up your eyes on Halloween without a prescription and using over-the-counter lenses, but people should not let one night of fun ruin their vision for a lifetime.”

Find more information about costume contact lenses at

Gannett News Service

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