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Surgeon David Allamby FRCS(Ed), FRCOphth
 David Allamby

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Novelty contacts this Halloween: trick or treat?

Learn more about vision correction

27
Oct
2017

Novelty contacts are extremely popular around this time of year and whilst we all want to have the scariest Halloween costume, it is not worth risking your vision by misusing these special-effects lenses.

What are novelty contact lenses?

Did you need a prescription to wear novelty contact lenses?

If you are thinking about wearing novelty contacts this Halloween, be sure to prepare in advance, as although they are a lot of fun, they should be treated with as much precaution as regular contacts.

According to the British Contact Lens Association there are hundreds of different types of contact lenses and thousands of different fittings.  Novelty contact lenses are exactly the same, with no one size fitting everybody.  Each lens type needs to be fitted to meet your personal requirements.  If you wish to change or have new contact lenses of any sort, it is important you are advised by your doctor or optician.

Misusing novelty contacts: what are the consequences?

Whilst many online costume sites sell novelty contact lenses, the risks to your vision just aren’t worth it as you risk developing the following infections:

  • corneal ulcerCorneal abrasion - essentially a scratch in your eye which can be caused by getting dirt or sand if your eye, poking your eye, and wearing poor-fitted or dirty contact lenses. This impacts the cornea, the clear layer that covers the iris of your eye
  • Corneal ulcers - most commonly affecting people that wear contact lenses, left untreated could lead to permanent vision loss.

Our very own Dr David Allamby emphasises the dangers of novelty contact lenses to your vision.  Here’s what he has to say...

"Decorative contact lenses need to be treated in the same way as prescription contact lenses - you need to have thorough guidance on how to use them along with a plan for follow-up care. The eye is a very delicate area and it needs to be treated with kid gloves. I have seen some terrible cases of injuries from normal contact lenses, and novelty ones aren't likely to be made of the same quality as those on prescription. Even just putting them in incorrectly can lead to tears on the cornea, and bacteria breeds behind the lens which can lead to ulcers and potentially blindness.’

Don’t sleep in your contacts!

David reiterates that ‘After a party, people might sleep in them, which increases the likelihood of infection. They need to understand there is a risk of them permanently damaging their eyes.’

He continues with a very interesting comparison between buying novelty contact lenses unprescribed and driving a car that didn’t have an MoT, ‘You wouldn't drive a car that didn't have an MoT - it'd be extremely dangerous and foolish to do so. Yet many people in the UK seem to think that putting things in their eyes that haven't been sold by a trained eye-care professional is perfectly fine...it is anything but’

Novelty contacts just aren’t worth it

David underlines that ‘it's quite shocking that you can just pick these things up on the internet or in a fancy dress shop with no advice or aftercare. I'd advise the government that it's a retailing loophole which needs to be firmly closed.’

So with all this in mind, avoid the real life horrors of novelty contacts gone wrong this Halloween and take the precautions that will keep your vision safe.

halloween


Sources

British Contact Lens Association

Read more on laser eye surgery, vision and eye health, here

By: David
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