Disclaimer: The scary information you’re about to read is for educational purposes only; not consultative. If you’re experiencing any eye problems or vision loss, please consult your local eye doctor immediately.
Everything about Halloween revolves around wearing the perfect costume. The clothes alone just aren’t enough anymore. Special Effects makeup and decorative contact lenses are really buzzing with popularity nowadays. I mean, you cannot just be a scary werewolf and not have the matching eyes to go with the costume, right? You know what else sounds scary? Corneal inflammation. Ocular surface infections. Blindness.
Suddenly having red colored eyes isn’t all that great when it’s actually redness from a really bad eye infection. Here’s the thing, folks: contact lenses aren’t over-the-counter cosmetics. You cannot just go to the makeup section at Walgreens and pick up some yellow cat eye contact lenses like you would if you wanted to get some eyeliner or mascara.
Contact lenses are actually medical devices prescribed by eye care professionals (optometrists or ophthalmologists). Legally speaking, only those health professionals hold prescriptive rights to fit you into contact lenses. Contact lenses ARE NOT one-size-fits-all. Believe it or not, the contact lens exam portion of your annual eye exam is called a contact lens fitting. Key word: Fitting. Special eye measurements are taken to select the contact lens most suited for your own ocular anatomy, chemistry and vision needs. I bet you didn’t know our eyes produce different kinds of tears that help lubricate and protect our corneas (the ocular structure where the contact lens sits on).
Our eyes require nutrients and oxygen just like the rest of our body. If you put on a necktie or necklace that’s way too tight for your neck, you’ll have trouble breathing, asphyxiate and suffer some pretty scary consequences. Similarly, if you slap on an ill-fitting contact lens that’s just too tight for your cornea you’ll experience corneal asphyxiation that can lead to some pretty scary scenarios.
Corneal infiltrates, ulcers, and infections are usually associated with contact lens abuse. Conjunctivitis isn’t always just a stand-alone diagnosis. Sometimes it’s a sign of something bigger and vision threatening. Conjunctivitis is inflammation of the conjunctiva (a clear layer of tissue that sits on top the white part of the eyeball. Conjunctivitis could also be a sign of inflammation and/or infection which will require prescription medication to be treated (these medications are usually pricey).
Ocular infections and inflammation are sight-threatening, painful, and can potentially lead to permanent blindness. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that you NOT purchase contacts from street vendors, salons/beauty supply stores, flea markets, novelty/Halloween stores, or internet sites that don’t require a valid prescription. I mean, you wouldn’t buy your prescribed medications from unauthorized places, would you?
Here’s a helpful tip: Go get your eyes examined and fitted for proper-fitting contact lenses and come up with a helpful and proactive plan with your local eye doctor if you do plan on wearing colored or decorative contact lenses.
Dr. Clyde is a licensed and board-certified eye care professional that will gladly go over proper contact lens care with you should you have questions, comments or concerns.
-Jeff Hernandez, Contributing Writer