Did you know that a Halloween costume accessory could lead to blindness? The American Academy of Ophthalmology is warning the public against wearing costume-contact lenses purchased without a prescription. These illegally-sold cosmetic lenses may not be sterile and can cause a host of serious eye problems that could cause your Halloween to become a real nightmare.
Did you know that Halloween is one of the largest candy holidays of the year? It ranks second just after Easter with the amount of candy that is bought and consumed on Halloween. When the $2.1 billion dollars in candy sales is split among all the households in the United States, the average family spends $44-$47 on Halloween candy each year. Candy consumption is even crazier, as the average child eats about 3 cups worth of sugar (or 144 grams) of sugar on Halloween day alone. That’s compared to the recommended maximum of 6 grams a child should have in a day.
Halloween isn’t only big on candy. It’s big on costumes as well! Fortune predicts that a whopping $2.5 billion will be spent on Halloween costumes this year. $950 million of that money will be spent on children’s costumes. The average costume is about $27 or so, and they often come with accessories like masks, hand-held tools, crazy makeup and contact lenses. It’s the contacts and anything that comes in contact with your eyes that you want to be careful with.
Around Halloween, costume shops and boutiques start to pop up all over the place. Costumes can be bought online and venders often sell whole sets of costumes together, complete with all the accessories. If your costume comes with contacts or there is a matching set of contacts at a Halloween store, avoid them if you want to keep your vision. You should know that all contact lenses that are sold without a prescription in the United States are actually illegally-sold contacts. The FDA considers contact lenses to be medical devices, so when you see them sold by everyday vendors, beware.
What’s the big deal with costume contacts? You have to remember that you only have one set of eyes and your eyes can only regenerate cells with certain injuries. With chronic conditions like macular degeneration or glaucoma, once the eye cells are damaged, you can’t get them back. Contacts sold from non-medical vendors are ones that can cause serious eye damage. The FDA has issued warnings about costume contacts because of the high rate of injury and vision loss associated with these contacts.
Christopher J. Quinn, O.D., president of the American Optometric Association stated, “If you’re not careful, [decorative contact lenses] can cause serious eye and vision problems.” Those damages can be irreversible in some patients. Some contacts contain harmful dyes that can irritate and infect the eyes. Others may not be smooth and can scratch the cornea of the eyes, causing vision loss. This can easily happen because decorative costume contacts are one-size-fits-all, when the eyes are not. The most common eye injuries reported at Halloween include:
The eyes can be quite delicate, even though they are known to heal fast from certain eye injuries. However, you want to take steps to care for your eyes not only on Halloween, but year-round. If you currently have contact lenses:
To keep your vision healthy, make sure you take the easy steps to keep your contacts clean, prescribed correctly and new. Avoid Halloween costume contacts that can damage the corneas. Don’t wear false lashes with costumes if you can’t avoid the glue or lashes getting into your eyes. Be careful with facemasks and with all additional accessories that come with costumes. Never point objects at your eyes or at another person’s eyes. The more safety precautions you take with your eye health, the lower your risk is for an eye injury. If you sustain an eye injury or have eye safety questions for the holidays, call Peeper’s Optical at (303) 223-0401!