Because of the health risk involved with costume contact lenses, it is unlawful to distribute plano (non-corrective) lenses in the state of California without an eye examination and prescription. However costume contact lenses can still be found at various retail outlets and over the Internet where there is also no advice about proper lens hygiene. As a result, many optometrists report an increase in incidents of eye infections and injuries during the Halloween season.
Below are tips for parents from the California Optometric Association regarding safely using costume contact lenses:
1. See an optometrist for a prescription and proper fitting.
2. Always wash your hands before handling lenses.
3. Regularly clean contact lenses as directed by the optometrist.
4. Store lenses in a clean case, and keep the case open and dry between cleanings
5. Use only solutions recommended by your optometrist to disinfect lenses.
6. Never re-use old disinfecting solution.
7. Remove contacts before swimming or entering a hot tub.
8. Replace lenses according to the schedule designated by your optometrist.
Dr. Jonathan Gording of the California Optometric Association has created and fitted contacts for Interview with a Vampire, Babylon 5, Buffy, Angel, House MD, and the forthcoming The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, starring Brad Pitt. He cautions that using costume contact lenses incorrectly can cause eye infections that, without treatment, can lead to permanent scarring of the eye and vision loss.
“When I work with a producer, I have to remind them that costume contacts are medical devices,” explains Dr. Gording. “Not only do they need to be fitted by an optometrist, the contacts have to be inspected for nicks, edge defects or other issues that can damage the eye or cause infection.”
Costume contact lenses may be a perfect touch to your Halloween costume, but the California Optometric Association warns that by using them without first visiting an optometrist, you are risking permanent eye damage. To find an optometrist in your area, go to eyehelp.org and click on the “Find an Eye Doc” link.