WHEN it comes to Halloween costumes, novelty contact lenses are popular at this time of year – with some seeing it as the ultimate edge to have cats eyes or similar when they go to a fancy dress party.
But I remind consumers to have their eyes open to the potential safety risk posed by short-term-wear lenses that allow you to change your eye colour temporarily, or to display a fun pattern over your iris.
You do not need a prescription to buy novelty contact lenses (also known as cosmetic contact lenses, crazy lenses, fancy lenses or fashion lenses) but Consumer Protection strongly recommends consulting an optical or eye care professional before buying them.
Certain pre-existing ocular conditions can mean the products are not suitable for some individuals and may cause eye damage.
Even if there is a no medical reason for you to avoid using contact lenses, a professional testing session with an optician is advisable. If contact lenses are used incorrectlyn with Halloween costumes, they can cause eye irritations, infections or at the worst even blindness.
To avoid harm you should follow any safety and care instructions (including how many uses before replacement).
Ensure lenses are sterilised with appropriate solution before putting them in.
Do not leave them in too long (if you’re unsure how long then ask your optometrist) and never share lenses with someone else.
There is no law in WA to specify who can sell novelty contact lenses and there is no age restriction for buyers either. Despite that, experience tells us children need to be particularly careful to avoid injuries because of the misuse of novelty contact lenses.
Sadly, a few years ago a 13-year-old girl in Queensland lost the sight in one of her eyes after borrowing a friend’s novelty contact lenses.
Whatever age you are, you must follow basic hygiene because our eyes are so delicate and can react severely to dirt particles or bacteria.
Previous cosmetic contact lenses warnings issued by Consumer Protection in 2006 and 2013 can be found on our websitehere plus there is more information about the dangers of cosmetic contact lenses and a copy of a safety alert publication here.
If you are wearing novelty contact lenses with Halloween costumes, remember having red eyes for one night could be a good attention-grabbing trick but bloodshot eyeballs for days and days afterwards is certainly no treat.