What are costume contact lenses?
Costume contact lenses, or cosmetic contacts, are made to change the appearance of your eyes (in color or design). Custom contact lenses have grown in popularity over the past decade, and the technology behind the lenses has improved along with comfort and wearability. What used to only be available in an uncomfortable gas-permeable lens, costume contact lenses are now available in soft silicone hydro-gel, which makes it easier for new wearers (or non-wearers) to achieve a specific look they’re going for. With designs ranging from colors to symbols, the possibilities are endless and so is the danger.
Every year, the demand for costume contacts increases for Halloween and Cosplay events. With this demand comes buyers who are uneducated, and sellers who are profiting illegally while compromising the safety of their customers. Although it’s difficult to get a clear number on injuries caused by costume contact lenses, a 2010 study published in the journal Pediatrics indicated that at least 13,500 emergency room cases each year are due to contact lens injuries in children and teens.
Injuries from contacts typically include: Infections, cuts, scratches, corneal abrasions, corneal ulcers, keratitis, and oxygen restriction. Sometimes these injuries may require surgeries like corneal transplants. Other times, the injuries or infections are so severe that vision loss becomes permanent.
Contact Lenses are Not Toys
The most dangerous aspect of costume contact lenses is that they are advertised like toys. There is no such thing as a “one size fits all” contact lens. Purchasing contact lenses without a prescription can damage vision it is also ILLEGAL. If you see a store selling contact lenses without a prescription, REPORT them to your local FDA consumer complaint division.
Costume contacts look COOL!
Costume contact lenses can look awesome and are totally safe IF you get them from a reputable source with a valid prescription. Ask your optometrist about ordering your costume contact lenses and make sure your eyes are safe for Halloween and any Cosplay events (or you know, any day you feel like dressing up).
How to get Costume Contact lenses
Start with your Optometrist.
Plan ahead and schedule a contact lens fitting. Give yourself a few weeks (or more) before Halloween to schedule your appointment and get your contact lens fitting completed. At your fitting, the doctor will assess the shape and size of your cornea and see what size contact lens will fit best for you. You will try contact lenses until you find a type that is comfortable for you.
Your doctor will assess whether you are a good candidate for contact lenses. People prone to eye infections, with a history of dry eye, or exposure to chemicals may not be good candidates for contact lenses.
Contact lens training: If you are new to contacts, your doctor will go over how to wear and take care of your contact lenses. This will help reduce the risk of infection. Your doctor will also explain how long you’re able to wear your contact lenses for.
Don’t have a prescription but still want to order costume contacts?
You still need a contact lens fitting. The contact lens fitting measures the shape of your eye and determines the size of contact lenses you will need for best fit and comfort. You will receive a prescription that will have these measurements listed to purchase the correct fitting costume contacts.
If you choose not to get your costume lenses from your optometrist, bring them in for your doctor to see on your eyes to check the fit and make sure your eyes are healthy.
What costume would you wear special contact lenses for? Let us know in the comments!