World leading experts from Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust are warning party-goers planning to wear novelty contact lenses this Halloween about their potential dangers. If bought and used incorrectly, they could have long-term consequences on eyesight and eye health.
Cosmetic contact lenses are often sold illegally online, in party shops, fashion retailers and market stalls. These outlets rarely provide enough advice about how to use and store contact lenses safely and the lenses aren’t made to fit an individual’s eye shape.
The law states that cosmetic contact lenses should only be supplied under the supervision of a registered optician or eye doctor who will check the lenses fit and are of good quality, alongside providing advice on wearing and caring for lenses to reduce the risk of infection.
Badrul Hussain, consultant ophthalmic surgeon at Moorfields Eye Hospital, said:
“We often see patients, including children under 16, who have developed eye conditions, such as corneal abrasions and more seriously, infections after wearing cosmetic contact lenses. I have come across patients sharing lenses with friends, wearing lenses past their expiry date and storing them in tap water - all of these can have devastating effects.
“Most patients who have bought novelty lenses haven’t been shown how to use them safely. Not knowing the basics of using contact lenses properly can increase your risk of developing painful eye injuries, infections and in the worst cases, risk of permanent sight loss.
“The cornea, the clear window at the front of the eye, is delicate and can be scratched easily by inexperienced contact lens wearers. This can expose the eye to organisms that can cause nasty infections, which in extreme cases can result in permanently impaired, or loss of, vision.”
Moorfields is sharing the following advice for anyone planning to wear cosmetic contact lenses this Halloween:
- Make sure a registered optician checks the lenses fit safely.
- Always thoroughly wash and dry your hands before touching your eye.
- Do not sleep in your contact lenses.
- Never let other people try on your contact lenses.
- Never let lenses come into contact with water, such as in the shower, bath, hot tub, sauna or swimming pool.
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