LAWTON, OK (KSWO)- For those who go all out for their Halloween costume, making your eyes look like a cat's or a zombie is the crowning touch. But, there's a risk involved, that might seriously damage your sight.
Federal law-enforcement authorities say that the cheaper, non-prescription decorative, or costume contacts that are sold at costume shops or online are unregulated by the FDA. They've been known to cause infections, scratches, and in some cases, even blindness. So, they're sending out a warning for people to think twice before they buy.
Doctor Ann Warn with the Dean McGee Eye Institute says contact lenses should not be thought of as fashion accessories or makeup. The eyes are one of the most delicate and important parts of the body, so what you put in and on them must be medically safe and FDA-approved.
Warn said they see a spike in patients with eye concerns during Halloween. Normal lenses are made of special material that helps the eye still get oxygen and allows the cornea, the clear windshield of the eye to also get oxygen.
"These cosmetic contacts are not made out of that material in fact they are usually not made in the U.S. so we don't know what could be in them. On test a lot of them had chlorine in them, which is very toxic to the surface of the eye and so these are very dangerous”, said Warn.
Whenever you get contacts your are measured and fitted for the correct lenses size just for you. But the ones you buy for your costume are all one size fits all.
"It's very uneven, that can scratch the eye and can cause eye infections. If you wear those you are a 16 times greater risk of getting a severe eye infection like a cornea ulcer, and cornea ulcer can be sight threatening”, said Warn.
It is crucial that your lenses fit properly. Warn said if it is not prescribed to you, then it is not for you.
"Anytime you get a contact lens from a website where it didn't require a prescription to get it. Even if it just a colored contact or if you get them at the fair, and beauty supply shops things like that, be very wary you don't know what they are made of”, said Warn.
If you want to do something different for Halloween or just change your appearance go to the eye doctor first.
"A contact lenses is a medical device. It has to fit you and if you are just buying something you don't know what it is made of, you don't know if it is the right shape or size, then you are really just asking for problems”, said Warn.
If you purchased contacts for Halloween or just colors on the internet to be careful. If you have any irritation, redness, sensitivity, or pain immediately take them out and see your eye care professional.
Federal law enforcement has seized 100 thousand pairs of counterfeit, illegal, and unapproved contact lenses.
Studies show that 11 percent of people have worn decorative contact lenses without a prescription.