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Home » What's New » This Halloween Be Wary of Costume Contact Lenses

This Halloween Be Wary of Costume Contact Lenses

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We all know why we need to wear sunglasses and sunscreen in the summer. Winter, however, can be deceiving. It's an illusion to assume that we are safe from sunburns during the colder season.

Snow acts as a powerful mirror for sunlight and magnifies the effects of UV rays which would otherwise be absorbed by the ground. As a result, the eyes are exposed to both the UV radiation bouncing back from the snowy carpet and the rays shining down directly from the sun.





If your family is skiing or snowboarding up in the mountains, you need to be even more careful! UV rays are more powerful at higher altitudes. Another important factor to remember is that ultraviolet radiation penetrates through clouds, so even if the sun is hidden behind them, it can still damage your eyes.

Prevent overexposure to sunlight by wearing sunglasses that absorb at least 95% of ultraviolet radiation when you go outside, no matter what time of year it is. Even though you want to look great in your shades, the most important part of choosing sunglasses is making sure they provide adequate protection against UV. Make sure the lenses are 100% UV blocking by looking for an indication that they block all light up to 400 nanometers - UV400. The good news is you don't necessarily have to pay more for full coverage for your eyes. Dozens of reasonably priced options exist that still provide total ultraviolet protection.

Another important factor in selecting sun wear is the size of the lenses. You want to make sure your glasses cover as much of the area around your eyes as possible. The more coverage you have, the less harmful radiation will be able to penetrate. Lenses that wrap around the temples will also prevent UV waves from entering from the sides.

If you like to ski or frolic in the snowy hills, you should be aware that the sun's rays are stronger at higher elevations, so you need to be especially careful to keep your eyes shaded on the slopes. In addition to sunglasses, it's a good idea to put on a wide brimmed hat that covers your eyes.

Make a point to be knowledgeable about proper eye protection throughout the year. Don't forget to wear your sunglasses.

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As Halloween approaches and costume planning gets more serious, many consider the use of novelty or costume contact lenses as a way to add that extra flair. Whether you are dressing up as a cat, a vampire, or looking for something fun that glows in the dark, dressing up your eyes can certainly add the finishing touch to your outfit. However, most people are unaware that costume contact lenses can pose a serious danger to your sight. If used improperly and bought without a medical prescription from an eye care professional, costume contact lenses can cause serious infection, corneal abrasions and in some cases lead to permanent vision loss. 

As contact lenses are considered a medical device they need to be prescribed and fitted by a licensed eye care professional, according to the FDA and Health Canada. Most of the lenses sold in novelty and retail stores are not approved by the FDA or Health Canada. This is because the material they are made from can scratch your cornea, distort your vision or cause an infection. In fact it is illegal for retailers to sell any kind of contact lenses without a prescription. That’s why contact lenses for costumes are often purchased at discounted rates online, where regulations are negligible.

Here are a few tips to take into consideration if you decide to use costume contact lenses on Halloween or at any other time during the year.

1.     Visit your eye doctor for a thorough eye exam. Your doctor will also measure your eyes for the correct contact lens fit and explain the correct way to use and care for your lenses. This rule applies even if you have perfect vision.

2.     Purchase costume contacts only from a retailer that requests a prescription and sells FDA approved colored lenses.

3.     Be sure to follow the instructions for contact lens usage, care and cleaning.

4.     If you experience redness, swelling or discharge, remove your lenses and seek medical attention from your eye doctor.

5.     Do not share your contact lenses with anyone else.

6.     Schedule a follow up eye exam with your eye care professional.

Don't let an impulsive buy from a costume store ruin your vision.

For more information, watch the FDA's video on improper use of decorative lenses below: