As the month of October continues, more and more people begin to plan their costumes for Halloween. A scary trend that has emerged is the use of colored or decorative contact lenses as a part of a costume. Part of the reason this is so frightening is the many risks that are associated with wearing contact lenses without a prescription and care of an eye doctor.
Legality of OTC Contacts
In the US, contact lenses are classified as a medical device and are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.
As a medical device, contact lenses require a prescription from a licensed doctor and must be purchased from a vendor who authorizes the purchase with the valid prescription.
Therefore, any contact lenses which are sold without a valid prescription are in violation of the FDA statutes.
Risks with Colored Contact Lenses
All contact lenses pose a risk to the eye and eye health. Since contact lenses rest directly on the eye, on the cornea, the contacts can result in damage, infection, and in the end permanent vision loss.
If a contact lens is not sterile or is made from contaminated materials, the contact can transmit germs or bacteria into the eyes.
If a contact does not fit properly, the contact can scratch the eye or cause a scratch when it is removed from the eye.
When a contact is worn for longer than the appropriate time interval, the risks associated with contact lens wear are heightened and increased significantly.
When Cosmetic Contacts Cause Problems
Cosmetic, or colored, contacts are not inherently problematic. Rather when these lenses are made, sold, or worn improperly.
Making contacts which are designed to be worn for cosmetic purposes should be held to the same quality and safety standards as those which are used for correcting vision. Since the contact lens will rest on the eye, it is paramount that the material and design are appropriate and meet the standards.
Selling colored or cosmetic contacts without a valid prescription is not only illegal, but it also puts the purchaser in a position to have problems due to a lack of understanding. When contacts are prescribed, the doctor can review the correct wear time and wear schedule as well as how to safely insert and remove the contacts.
Wearing any contact lens in a way that it is not designed to be worn can cause many problems. Among the most common ways that contact lenses are worn incorrectly are wearing the lenses for long periods of time, wearing the lenses while sleeping, and wearing the lenses and using eye drops.
How to Safely Wear Colored Contacts
All is not lost this Halloween season if colored contacts are on the agenda! There are several brands of contacts which offer colored contacts and can be prescribed with or without vision correction.
These contact lenses are prescribed by an eye doctor and must be fit in a contact lens exam. With the help of an eye doctor and prescription colored contacts, this Halloween can be scary for all the right reasons!