31.10.2009

How to keep contact lenses safe for Halloween

How to keep contact lenses safe for Halloween

By Emily Tait

Halloween is about to begin and all over the country people are getting ready to transform into witches, wizards, ghosts and monsters.

It should be a fun time and both children and adults will want to make their appearances change drastically.

For some, this could involve using novelty or coloured contact lenses to give themselves a truly eye-popping look.

However, a number of safety organisations have given warnings about these sorts of contact lenses.

Generally, contact lenses are very safe to wear if they have been properly prescribed and fitted by an eye care professional and bought from a reliable stockist.

However, mass produced coloured contact lenses that have not been fitted with any expert care are not advisable.

In the US, where Halloween celebrations are very popular, the Food and Drug Administration has issued a serious warning about contact lenses for the occasion.

Spokesperson James Saviola noted that use of novelty contact lenses increases for Halloween.

This in itself is not necessarily a problem, but wearing them without taking due care is dangerous.

People who want to wear novelty contact lenses for Halloween are urged by the authority to see a professional first and get a proper prescription.

They should also be sure to get information about hygiene care for the lenses and be certain to keep them properly clean as instructed.

Contact lenses then need to be bought from a reputable outlet.

"What troubles us is when they are bought and used without a valid prescription, without the involvement of a qualified eye care professional, or without appropriate follow-up care," Mr Saviola explained.

In the US, it is illegal to sell novelty contact lenses over the counter, but they are still widely obtained this way.

But wearing contact lenses that do not fit properly can be very dangerous and damage the eyes.

Even if a person does not wear Halloween contact lenses, or wears well-fitted and prescribed ones, there are still measures to take to help keep eyes safe.

US magazine the Acorn spoke to optometrist James B Mayer for advice on Halloween eye health.

Masks may have small eye holes and hinder vision, making trips, falls and other accidents more likely.

Dr Mayer suggested using makeup on the face instead, although he stressed that the product should be suitable for the purpose.

Care also needs to be taken to prevent makeup from getting into the eyes.

Glow sticks can be popular over Halloween but they contain a substance that can irritate the eyes. The expert recommends using a torch instead.

In addition, anyone wearing a scarf or hat on their head should keep it secured so it does not slip down over the eyes.

Many people will be wearing their ordinary prescription contact lenses but applying makeup to their faces around it.

Essortment provides a list of tips for preventing eye irritation in this case.

Waterproof eye makeup is advised, especially if a person uses eye drops throughout the day.

Mascara should be labelled as suitable for use with contact lenses and also as hypoallergenic.

Avoid products that use fibres and silicone to make lashes seem longer and thicker, as these substances will cause irritation should they fall into the eye.

Those who are planning a scary hairstyle also need to protect their eyes if they are wearing contact lenses.

Products such as gel and spray should not be applied liberally to hair that is hanging in or close to the eyes.

Essortment suggests closing the eyes before using hairspray, then backing away before opening them again.

by Alexa Kaczka


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